2017 NYAE Q1 Recap: Microgrids & Critical Infrastructure

-Tanner Kenney, Fellow

The Q1 2017 New York Advanced Energy Group (NYAE) Stakeholder Breakfast took place on Thursday, March 23rd at the offices of Duane Morris where discussion leaders and attendees examined the topics of microgrids and critical infrastructure in the context of City public policy, infrastructure, the private sector, and beyond.

Following an introduction from Advanced Energy Group Founder and CEO, H.G. Chissell, Duane Morris Of Counsel Phyllis Kessler provided welcoming remarks and began the discussion with a definition of critical infrastructure and microgrids through the lens of the City of New York. Ms. Kessler then highlighted the results of a recent NYC PSC hearing wherein the City outlined its goals for environmental protection via the introduction of advanced energy technologies through NYSERDA’s REV program.

Ms. Kessler closed by detailing the future of large-scale DER projects in the City through Location-Based Marginal Pricing (LBMP) mechanisms and turned the floor over to Ke Wei, Senior Policy Advisor for Energy with the Mayor’s Office of Recovery & Resiliency. Ms. Wei began her presentation with a top-down description of the office’s prioritization methodology wherein the City places the largest value on critical infrastructure, supported by critical energy infrastructure.

Ms. Wei also detailed the City’s efforts to rebuild and reshape NYC’s post-Sandy energy landscape through various mechanisms, including the Climate Change Preparedness program which saw ConEd invest over $1bn in hardening critical energy infrastructure. Ms. Wei highlighted the necessity for the investment through a variety of sources, primarily the recently-revised flood maps of Manhattan and other boroughs.

Jenna Agins, Energy & Sustainability Specialist for NYU’s Langone Medical Center, was next to speak and provided the room with a perspective of critical infrastructure through the lenses of energy and healthcare. Ms. Agins detailed the expansive Center’s 3 main care facilities that cover more than 3,000,000 sq. ft. with 1,500 licensed acute care beds. Additionally, with over 28,000 employees, the Center’s energy needs are tremendous and play a vital role in keeping New Yorkers healthy.

Ms. Agins described the necessity for both near-term and long-term planning, unlike any other industry, as the Center plans 15, 25, and 50 years out. NYU Langone’s sustainability goals call for a 50% reduction in GHG emissions by 2025 in addition to aggressive efficiency targets. Ms. Agins closed with a reminder that anchor institutions can play a vital role in promoting sustainability through advanced energy technologies.

Columbia’s Vice President of Facilities Operations, Frank Martino, was next to speak and he described the university’s energy demands through statists – with over 250 buildings covering more than 4,000,000 sq. ft., Columbia’s summertime energy load peaks at roughly 18MW. Mr. Martino stated that, because every institution has a different profile and portfolio, top-down, long-term planning is necessary to ensure that technology investments contribute to both sustainability and resiliency goals.

Mr. Martino closed by saying that, as a NYC One City partner, the University hopes to reduce GHG emissions by 20% YOY for 2016-2017. Next to speak was Andre Wellington, the Distributed Generation Ombudsman for ConEd. He began by detailing the current portfolio of renewable energy infrastructure in New York City and described the difficulty of reworking the utility grid for multi-directional energy transmission due to the City’s reliance on underground mesh networks.

Mr. Wellington proceeded to describe the many ways in which microgrids can be defined in New York, both small and large in capacity. He stated that smaller, islandable buildings are more easily integrated into ConEd’s network as opposed to “carving out” larger blocks of several buildings that will then further distribute energy to individual customers within that block. Mr. Wellington closed by emphasizing the need for community engagement and cooperation in order to successfully deploy DER technologies.

Michael DeSocio, Senior Manager of Market Design for NYISO, followed with a presentation on New York State’s energy transmission capacity and its relationship with the City of New York. While a complicated issue, communications between upstate energy providers and downstate energy consumers has improved greatly in recent years, but has some ways to go in terms of efficiency.

Mr. DeSocio detailed NYISO’s “capacity market” and highlighted both its benefits and risks in terms of provided clean, reliable, and resilient power to all New Yorkers. In order to improve, he urged collaboration among all parties involved in NYC’s energy marketplace in order to achieve 80x50 aggressive sustainability goals. Mr. DeSocio closed by stating NYISO’s 5-minute pricing mechanism must be updated to allow for second-to-second signals to be communicated.

H.G. Chissell then opened the breakfast for questions and began on the topic of healthcare by asking the discussion leaders the various ways in which hospitals and care facilities can ensure both clean and reliable power. Attendees then broached subjects such as the visibility of flood prevention mechanisms, the overlap between NYISO and ConEd, CHP, Cogen, power outages, and beyond.

Discussion leaders for the event included:

·       Ke Wei, Sr Policy Advisor for Energy, NYC Mayor's Office of Recovery and Resiliency

·       Frank Martino, Vice President, Facilities Operations, Columbia University

·       Jennifer Kearney, Executive Partner & Founder, Gotham 360

·       Andre Wellington, Distributed Generation Ombudsman, Con Edison

·       Phyllis Kessler, Of Counsel, Duane Morris – Host Sponsor

·       Jenna Agins, Energy/Sustainability Specialist, NYU Langone Medical Center

·       Michael DeSocio, Sr. Manager Market Design, NYIS