Updates

EC New York Partner, The Point CDC, Wins $100K to Study Community Microgrid, Plays Leading Role in Expanding Climate Resilience in South Bronx

An Emerald Cities New York Local Council member, The Point Community Development Corporation (The Point CDC), has won $100,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) NY Prize microgrid competition to help communities create stand-alone energy systems that can operate more efficiently and continue to provide power in case of power outages.

The Point CDC will use the NYSERDA funds to conduct a feasibility study for a community microgrid centered around the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center – the world’s largest food distribution center that provides approximately 60 percent of New York City’s produce.

Community microgrids are local energy networks – small energy generation facilities – that provide power to individual customers and institutions such as hospitals and schools, and local communities.   

“Community microgrids increase resilience by providing access to power independent of the main grid. They can also typically operate more efficiently because they require less distribution infrastructure and can use technologies like combined heat and power,” explained EC New York Director Maggie Tishman. “They can also create a path for local wealth generation if residents are able to own the system and reinvest revenues in their communities.”

Part of a Bigger Picture
The NYSERDA-funded feasibility study is part of a larger resilience plan, Hunts Point Lifelines, which received $20 million in the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Rebuild by Design competition and an additional $25 million from the City of New York 

“All of this is being led on the community side by The Point CDC,” said Tishman, who added that ECC supported The Point CDC’s NY Prize application and will advise during the microgrid feasibility study process, with an eye toward integrating community ownership and workforce development.

Additionally, EC New York is a member of the advisory board guiding the South Bronx Community Resiliency Agenda, a process also being led by The Point CDC. That effort will help inform the city’s process for disbursing the $45 million in combined awards.

Community Involvement by Design
Launched in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Rebuild by Design has evolved from a new kind of design competition into an innovative process that places local communities and civic leaders at the heart of a robust process for generating resilience solutions. The inclusive process has led to a paradigm shift in the way planners and governments approach disaster response and emergency preparedness.

Hunts Point Lifelines “sees jobs and the city’s food supply as critical resilience infrastructure and communities as powerful integrators of economic, social and ecological potential,” says the program’s website, which adds that the food market “is a major economic hub, creating over 25,000 jobs and $3 billion in annual direct economic activity.” So even a short disruption in this “key link in the New York City food chain” can be catastrophic. 

To protect the food market, the Rebuild by Design project will develop a new type of levee that incorporates locally-manufactured components to create a “cleanway” that intercepts stormwater and water-borne chemicals to create “a safe, green and interesting path between the community and the river,” the website says. In addition, the project will incorporate some 110 acres of green roofs on Hunts Point buildings of more than 20,000 square feet to help store rain, reduce flooding and lower building heating and cooling costs. 

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