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NYPA to invest $250M to make grid more flexible for renewables

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NYPA to invest $250M to make grid more flexible for renewables

The New York Power Authority is slated to spend approximately $3.3 billion over four years on capital projects and committed to invest $250 million through 2025 into accelerating the flexibility of the electric grid to give New Yorkers greater access to renewable energy resources.

In addition to signing off on a 2019 operating budget and a four-year financial plan for 2019-2022, the board of trustees for largest U.S. state-owned utility on Dec. 11 approved a $250 million investment to enhance grid flexibility. The goals are to lower market and financing barriers, accelerate implementation of up to 150 MW of grid flexibility projects with a focus on battery storage and demand-side management, and reduce market risks.

The $250 million investment will support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's goal of 1,500 MW of storage capacity by 2025 and the goals of the Reform the Energy Vision to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% and procure 50% of the state's electricity needs from renewables by 2030.

The NYPA said in a news release, "Energy storage is essential in transition from fossil fuels to a clean energy economy to ensure that renewable energy resources are available at the right times — when the sun isn't shining and the wind isn't blowing — and at the right location that provides the most benefits to the electric grid."

Going forward, the NYPA will invite the state's distribution utilities and 51 municipal and rural cooperative electric systems to conduct collaborative test-and-learn demonstrations to determine the capabilities and value of various storage and demand management tools that could be used to provide flexible services to the grid. The NYPA will also be looking for partners in the public and private sector as it identifies initial locations for the first tranche of projects.

The initial phase of the funding will allocate up to 30% of the $250 million into three primary new demonstration programs through the end of 2020. The projects include demonstrating opportunities to deploy storage facilities and provide demand flexibility to defer, reduce or avoid investments to address locational transmission congestion or replace retiring power plants and other infrastructure.

The funding will also be used to optimize the role that buildings and customer-owned distributed energy resources can play in supporting a cleaner energy system and simplifying the role of distributed energy resources in energy markets. Finally, the initial phase of funding will go toward pairing storage and renewables for longer intermittency durations, building flexibility into the generation and transmission systems to balance different geographical locations of renewables, and exploring longer duration demand flexibility.

The NYPA also plans to continue efforts to become the first completely digitized utility in North America by spending $81.7 million in 2019 to deploy thousands of sensors to modernize its communications infrastructure and monitor its 16 generating facilities and 1,400 circuit-miles of power lines.

The 2019 operating budget includes $729.2 million in capital spending on the NYPA's core business and strategic initiatives, along with $573.5 million for operations and maintenance. The authority will also expand its assets and bolster its capacity to transmit renewable energy, particularly wind, through the continued rebuild of the aging Moses-Adirondack lines in the North Country. It will spend $36.7 million on the project in 2019 as part of an overall $454.8 million initiative set for completion in 2023.

In addition, the NYPA's spending plan includes a $250 million commitment over seven years for the EVolve program, which seeks to speed the adoption of electric vehicles statewide through partnerships with the private and public sectors. The 2019 EVolve initiatives include the expansion of high-speed chargers on the New York State Thruway that can charge EVs in as little as 20 minutes, along with charging hubs at airports and selected communities that would support charging platforms.

Finally, as a part of the 2019 budget, the NYPA board of trustees signed off on a spending plan for NYPA subsidiary New York State Canal Corp. This plan includes $54.7 million in capital spending and $86.2 million in operations and maintenance funds for the 524-mile state Canal System, which turned a century old in 2018.