Tag: Microgrids

CCAs Will Power Community Solar, Storage & Microgrids

On April 28, 2016 elected & state officials, environmental leaders, business people and engaged citizens met to celebrate the launch of New York’s first Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) program and the announcement by keynote speaker Audrey Zibelman (left), Public Service Commissioner, that CCA will become a statewide program.

CCA is a state policy that enables municipalities to aggregate electricity demand and buy power in bulk on behalf of their community with the intent to procure alternative energy supplies while maintaining the existing electricity provider for transmission and distribution services.


Sustainable Westchester (SW) has been granted approval by the NYS Public Service Commission to implement the CCA program called Westchester Power.  Approximately 110,000 residents and small businesses in Westchester municipalities will see lower electricity costs with 14 of the 20 participating towns selecting 100% renewable energy as their default energy supply.


SW has been working to bring CCA to New York for over four years. Mike Gordon (right), co-chair of Sustainable Westchester and CEO of Joule Assets, led the NY CCA effort, and was also responsible for drafting all statewide and local CCA legislation.

CCAs can be the catalyst propelling wider distributed energy resources (DER) use by tapping into the existing community-base to integrate Community Solar, Community Storage, and ultimately Community Microgrids. Communities taking control of their power options was a central theme of the event, with the quote of the day:

“We (the community) are the ultimate DERs”

For Westchester County, producing electricity locally also translates into jobs that would otherwise go to out of state companies. Sustainable Westchester also plans to participate in Community Demand Response programs, generating revenues for its members and providing relief to the grid with hardware like smart thermostats.

The Power Up for Clean Energy New York was produced by the Bedford 2020 and the panelists (pictured below from left to right) were:

  • Mike Gordon, Sustainable Westchester, Joule Assets
  • Kate Burson, Tesla Motors
  • Micah Kotch, NY Prize, NYSERDA
  • David Sandbank, NY-Sun, NYSERDA
  • Glenn Weinberg, Westchester Power, Joule Assets


  • Karl Rábago, Pace Energy and Climate Center


Bright Power Wins RISE:NYC Competition with Innovative Resilient Power Hub


New York City, NY (PRWEB) May 01, 2015

New York City-based energy management provider, Bright Power, has been awarded funding to implement their Resilient Power Hub by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). The RISE:NYC competition, from NYCEDC, awards innovative solutions that drive business resiliency and which will better protect New York City from the impacts of future storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change. Bright Power’s Resilient Power Hub is a small-scale, storm-proof power plant, that will be deployed at three New York City locations using the prize money.

Stemming from the impact of Hurricane Sandy, RISE:NYC is a $30M competition administered by the NYCEDC to aid in the recovery and disaster prevention efforts of NYC’s small businesses. “Rise:NYC is part of the City’s comprehensive suite of initiatives to mitigate the effects of severe weather and climate change on New Yorkers, and all of the winning technologies will help support and strengthen small businesses across the city,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “Each of the 11 innovative winning technologies will make the City a safer, stronger and more resilient place, creating economic support and additional opportunities for New Yorkers and small businesses.”

The competition not only inspires innovation that targets the significant vulnerabilities in New York City’s buildings and infrastructure networks that the storm revealed, it also ensures that the highest impact, most scalable and replicable projects are implemented. Over 200 applications from 20 countries were submitted, finalists were announced in September 2014 and displayed their technologies at a demo night in October 2014. The 11 winners were selected by a panel of esteemed advisors and announced at an awards ceremony on April 29, 2015.

“Competitions like RISE:NYC bring out the best in our creative, technical minds and allow us to dream up powerful solutions to widespread problems. With so many impressive ideas from the finalists, it’s an honor to be selected as an award recipient. We are thrilled that the competition has recognized our Resilient Power Hub as a potentially transformative technology for our city,” said Jeff Perlman, President of Bright Power.

Bright Power’s Resilient Power Hub is a small-scale power plant that provides buildings with instantaneous back-up power to critical systems when the grid goes down, as well as energy savings the rest of the time. It can operate as part of or independent from the utility grid. The technology combines solar photovoltaics (PV), combined-heat-and-power (CHP) and energy storage under one automated system that is easily scaled and replicated in various building types. Partners include Thread Collective, a sustainable architecture firm, as well as Growing Energy Labs, Inc. (Geli), a provider of the Geli EOS software solution for energy storage and microgrid systems.

“Geli is excited to work with Bright Power and Thread Collective to bring their Resilient Power Hub microgrids and microgrid networks solutions to local businesses”, added Ryan Wartena, Geli CEO. “Designing microgrid systems based on building-specific requirements will be the way to scale energy solutions that provide maximum benefit to both the project host and the grid through Geli’s Internet of Energy platform.”

About Bright Power, Inc.
Bright Power provides strategic energy solutions to building owners and operators in New York and across the nation. Specializing in multifamily apartment buildings, Bright Power’s suite of services saves clients energy, money and time. Bright Power’s energy management solutions include EnergyScoreCards benchmarking software, energy audits, energy procurement, solar energy, green building, and construction management of energy improvements. For more information please visit http://www.brightpower.com.

About Geli
Gelit, short for Growing Energy Labs, Inc., provides software and business solutions to design, integrate, network and economically operate energy storage and microgrid systems. At its core, the Geli EOS (Energy Operating System) is a software platform that brings together energy storage, distributed generation, EV charging and building controls as part of the Geli Internet of Energy platform. For more information please visit http://www.geli.net.

About the Thread Collective
Thread Collective is an architecture firm that explores the seams between building and landscape, and stitches together the patterns of the built environment with its natural and social context. Their philosophy of understanding building and site as an integrated whole, woven with artistic, functional, and financial consideration creates the fabric from which poetic and sustainable architecture and public space emerge. For more information please visit threadcollective.com

via Bright Power Wins RISE:NYC Competition with Innovative Resilient Power Hub.

Rapid demand growth predicted for distributed generation technologies

Investment in on-site power technologies is projected to reach over $155 billion through 2023, up from $1.8 billion today, new analysis has found.

According to Navigant Research’s latest microgrid study, the global market for ‘microgrid enabling technologies’ such as diesel generators, natural gas-fueled generators, fuel cells, combined heat and power (CHP), solar photovoltaics (PV), distributed wind power, micro-hydropower, biomass, smart islanding inverters and energy storage will see rapid demand growth over the next several years.

‘Dramatic change is occurring in the microgrid market, as the economic value that these systems bring to the overall power grid becomes more and more apparent,’ said Peter Asmus, Navigant’s principal research analyst and report lead. ‘We expect the technologies that enable these systems to play key roles in the expansion of the microgrid sector to encompass additional technologies and services related to smart buildings, demand response, distribution and substation automation, and smart meters.’

According to the report, while Europe currently leads the market for microgrid-enabling distributed generation technology with a 40% market share and $714.2 million in revenue, by 2023 North America will take the lead, pulling in $4.9 billion, up from around $600 million in 2014.

Among the technologies, energy storage is projected to represent the single largest investment category among microgrid-enabling options by 2023.

via Rapid demand growth predicted for distributed generation technologies – Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production.

The distributed energy storage industry described in one chart

Battery-based energy storage can play a valuable enabling role when it comes to renewable energy adoption, but storage can also do much more. Services such as peak shifting, backup power, and ancillary grid services are a small subset of the larger matrix of potential future values batteries can provide, but storage is still too expensive to cost-effectively provide these services in most U.S. markets.

However, energy storage may be reaching a tipping point. Analysts at GTM project that 318 MW of distributed solar plus storage may be installed by 2018, for example. Also, California’s mandate to procure 1.3 GW of storage, combined with the Tesla gigafactory and the general trend of moving towards prosumer-based electricity markets, is a testament to the size of the potential market.

Thanks to these projections and no shortage of media coverage (by our count, over forty energy storage articles have been released over the past two months alone), an outsider could be led to believe that distributed storage, by participating in several different kinds of electricity markets using a number of different product configurations, is capable of solving many of our electricity system ills.

However, we’re not quite there yet. In reality the current state of the industry in the U.S. is still simple enough that it can be captured in a single chart that illustrates the two major challenges the energy storage industry is currently facing: high costs and limited avenues for capturing value.

In the following figure we’ve illustrated:

  • Installed cost for an energy storage system (blue bars on the left) based on current system pricing and a 20-year system lifetime
  • How much money you can make using that energy storage system for the four primary use cases we see right now.

Click image to enlarge


Any orange bar that climbs above the dotted black line indicates a profitable business case under current cost and rate structures. For any orange bar below the dotted black line, it’s currently not profitable to pursue that business case. For anyone following the energy storage industry, this makes intuitive sense: the frequency regulation market in PJM territory and the demand charge reduction market for commercial customers in California both currently offer cash-positive scenarios for energy storage companies like STEM and Coda. But other opportunities, such as self-consumption in Arizona and rate arbitrage in California, current have system costs that are too high and use case revenues that are too low to deliver a compelling value proposition.

But here’s the reason this chart explains the state of the entire U.S. energy storage industry: if you remove the green subsidy bar (here we use California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) and pretend it can be used in different states for various use cases) or move beyond regions with extremely generous compensation mechanisms (such as the PJM frequency market), none of these current business models offer anything close to a cash-positive scenario. This means that energy storage is either too expensive for widespread application or the revenue opportunities for energy storage simply aren’t big enough for the technology to capture value right now.

Following closely on the heels of Rocky Mountain Institute’s Battery Balance of System Charrette, our team is now working to attack both the cost and value sides of this equation in order for that blue bar to get a lot smaller and for more and more of those orange bars (and we’d like to see many more of these, not just the four dominant ones we see today) to climb well over the dotted black line in new markets across the U.S.


Right now, you can spend $29,000 (or $21,500 after incentives) for a 24 kilowatt-hour lithium ion battery pack … and you also get a car, since Li-ion batteries at those prices and sizes are found in today’s electric vehicles (e.g., the Nissan LEAF). Alternatively, you can spend nearly $34,000 for a similar battery pack without wheels. It could also take over 100 days for the utility to green-light you to use that wheel-less battery pack and your local jurisdiction might require a water-based fire extinguishing system to be installed (even if all that will do is fry your entire battery system).

During the charrette, we identified a host of similar, “easy to solve” challenges that could reduce costs as well as an array of more fundamental challenges, including:

  • the lack of standardization in a variety of key elements,
  • boutique interconnection protocols (how a battery is connected to the grid, and what it is allowed to do), and
  • lack of interoperability with other systems (how multiple batteries talk to each other, and how batteries talk to other things, like your solar system or home energy management system).

To help overcome these challenges and reduce the cost and time to market for energy storage systems, RMI is taking the lead on developing an energy storage cost roadmap framework in order to help industry, utilities, and customers understand how much storage costs now, outline what an industry-wide “should cost” target looks like (analogous to similar targets in the PV, solar system, andsemiconductor industries), and map the various initiatives and research that will need to take place in order to reach the cost targets. Furthermore, we’re taking a hard look at the EV industry’s effort to develop a standard EV plug to better understand how the energy storage industry could develop similar standardized physical interfaces for their products at the building and product levels.


Solving one side of the energy storage equation—reducing costs—won’t automatically lead to the creation of a thriving energy storage ecosystem. In addition, our electricity system needs to evolve and allow energy storage systems to compete with other energy resources on a level playing field. Unlike a residential solar PV customer, energy storage customers of all shapes and sizes are compensated differently depending on the market they participate in—if they’re even compensated at all. This, in spite of the fact that energy storage can or will be able to provide various grid services to millions of customers at a lower cost of service than today.

To help incubate a thriving energy storage ecosystem in the U.S. and more broadly, RMI is exploring partnership opportunities with regulators, utilities, and energy storage companies to fully understand the costs and benefits of energy storage (analogous to the effort RMI embarked upon two years ago with our similar study on distributed PV). Over the next year, we hope to help utilities better understand how distributed energy storage can reduce costs on distribution systems in order to drive regulatory change and open up entire new markets for distributed storage.

Cost-effective distributed energy storage is capable of helping electricity systems transform into low-carbon, secure, and reliable backbones of communities large and small. By focusing on the cost and value sides of the energy storage industry, we hope to help this technology reach unprecedented scale and contribute to RMI’s vision of the electricity future. We encourage you to check in on RMI’s efforts in the energy storage space here on our blog and feel free to let us know what you think in the comments below.

Download the Battery Balance of System Charrette: Post-Charrette Report Here.

via The Rocky Mountain Institute Blog: The Distributed Energy Storage Industry In One Chart.

Hello Local Energy, Bye Old Power Industry, Say NY Regulators with Key Vote

New York, where the power industry began over a century ago, might be where it ends too. At least the power industry as we know it today.

The state’s electric regulators made that clear February 26 when they took a key vote creating an electricity marketplace that elevates new, local energy over big central power plants and long transmission lines.

The New York Public Service Commission approved the framework for its  Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, a dramatic reworking of roles in the electricity business. Customers, innovators and competitive companies gain new stature, while utilities act as a more subservient platform for the new offerings.

The decision opens the door wide for disruptive energy technologies, such as microgrids, energy efficiency, solar, electric vehicles, energy storage and demand response.

Audrey Zibelman, the PSC chair who is widely credited for the new direction, described REV as a way to make the grid “more nimble, flexible and accommodating” for the new technologies.

She expects the new paradigm to increase system efficiency, lower costs, reduce emissions, increase system reliability and make the grid less vulnerable to attack.

New York is one of the first states to create such sweeping regulation, which lets consumers, businesses and communities gain control over their energy supply. As a result, the proceeding has attracted national attention over the last year as the commission formulated the plan.

About 300 local and national players weighed in and the commission received more than 1,000 written comments, most supporting the industry shift.

“It’s been overwhelming seeing the engagement,” Zibelman said, during Thursday’s commission meeting.

The Framework

The new distributed energy marketplace will operate on what New York calls a distributed system platform (DSP). This is both a “market maker and system coordinator,” according to the commission’s written decision.

The DSP plays a role somewhat akin to an independent system operator for wholesale markets. The DSP will plan, balance markets, oversee auctions and offer price transparency.

By way of example, the commission said products that use the platform might include microgrids, community solar, storage, fixed commodity pricing, demand response, energy efficiency programs and contracts for distributed energy maintenance and operations.

The DSP also will provide, or sell, a set of products and services of its own for those that use the platform. The products might include transaction or usage fees, platform access, analytic services, interconnection services, pricing and billing, metering information services and data sharing and maintenance, operation, and financing.

Why the Big Changes

A whole host of industry shifts led New York to create REV. Among them was the realization that the grid cannot efficiently meet today’s demand.

Because of economic changes and increased use of air conditioning, costly system peaks keep occurring. The state typically needs only about 18,000 MW. But to meet system peaks just a few hours a year, it must maintain 26,000 MW of capacity, Zibelman said.

By just operating more efficiently and reducing peak demand, the system could spare customers $1.5 to $2 billion per year, she said.

Further, the state’s power grid is aging, and it will cost a tremendous amount of money for New York to rebuild — about $30 billion over the next decade, almost double the investment of the last decade.

At the same time demand is slowing, meaning electricity sales are down. This creates a smaller base from which the electric industry can collect money for the new infrastructure. The bottom line is that rates will go up, if the state simply continues with business as usual.

local energy

“If we can manage the demand, manage the peak, we can avoid that investment,” Zibelman said.

Praise and Concerns

The REV concept has received widespread praise from companies promoting disruptive energy tech, energy entrepreneurs, investors, environmentalists and other stakeholders.

“There is so much potential, it is extraordinary,” said Mike Gordon, CEO of Joule Assets, which offers financing for energy efficiency and demand response. “The opportunity for private companies, for towns and villages, for government entities, it is just so rich. And the opportunity for consumers is so powerful.”

Kit Kennedy, director of the energy & transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, described REV asa bold step toward creating a cleaner and more efficient electric grid in New York state.”

“The decision paves the way to ramp up clean energy and energy efficiency, put more clean vehicles on the road, and make our electric grid more reliable than ever. On top of that, it will help lower energy bills for consumers, especially for low-income New Yorkers who need it most,” Kennedy said.

A key worry, however, has been that even as New York makes these changes, utilities will use their market clout to squash the many new competitors expected to emerge.

Anticipating this issue, the state set up rules to keep utility dominance in check. REV places limits on utility market plays. To own or develop distributed energy resources, a utility must prove that its investment:

  • Meets needs that the competitive market has been unable to fill
  • Includes energy storage integrated into the utility distribution system
  • Helps low or moderate income residential customers to benefit from distributed energy where markets cannot do so, or
  • Serves demonstration purposes

Joule Assets’ Gordon said he believes the competitive market will ramp up quickly, taking away the need for utilities to provide even these services.

What’s Next

The REV changes aren’t going to happen overnight, but will occur over several steps likely to take years.

With the REV framework now in place, the New York commission will move onto what it calls Track II in the REV proceeding. Track II will focus on the financial nitty-gritty: changes in how utilities are paid for their services — now that they will operate differently. The key is to avoid what is referred to as the “utility death spiral,” the financial degradation of a utility as it loses conventional customers.

Zibel said that REV spares utility financial harm because it gives them a new role managing the distributed platform.  And bulk power — large central power plants — do not go away; their role is simply no longer as dominant. Management and exchange will be needed between the two sides of the system: wholesale power and distributed energy. So utilities also will act as interface with the state’s grid operator, the New York ISO,

As a next step, utilities must solicit and develop demonstration projects that fit the REV framework. Projects are due to the commission by July 15.

By May 15 utilities  must identify potential non-wire alternatives for their systems.

And by December 15, they must file DSP implementation plans that include interconnection improvements.

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via Hello Local Energy, Bye Old Power Industry, Say New York Regulators with Key Vote – Energy Efficiency Markets.