Photo courtesy of L+M Development Partners

The housing complex will use the system to cut power costs, improve grid reliability, and provide backup power during extended outages. The money saved on energy costs will be used for programming that supports quality of life activities for the tenants of the 625-unit housing complex.

Marcus Garvey Apartments

Brooklyn, New York

Marcus Garvey Apartments is home to the first solar+storage microgrid at an affordable housing property in New York City. A new battery system, which began operation in June 2017, stores power from solar panels, a fuel cell system, and low-cost, off-peak power purchased from the utility, Con Edison.

Located in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, the Marcus Garvey affordable housing complex uses the energy storage system to cut electricity costs, improve grid reliability, and provide backup power during extended outages. When grid outages do occur, the microgrid will be able to island itself and provides up to 12 hours of power for several critical building loads during power outages, including outdoor lighting, the management office, security systems, and a community room. In the community room, the system is designed to power lighting, heating, refrigeration for medicines, and cell phone charging.

According to a 2017 case study, the microgrid was part of a $50 million project that included building re-construction and efficiency upgrades. The solar+storage system portion of the project cost was $1.3 million, with incentives through federal investment tax credit (ITC) allocations supported by Wells Fargo, grant funding from the NY-Sun Program, an Energy Services Agreement loan from NY Energy Efficiency Corporation, and shared savings through a third-party ownership contract.

The project is expected to result in savings on both electricity and heating bills, as well as performance payments from Con Edison for participation in the utility’s demand management program. The money saved on energy expenses will be used for programming that supports quality of life activities for the tenants of the 625-unit housing complex.

This project is the first microgrid deployed through Con Edison’s Brooklyn-Queens Neighborhood Program, which aims to lower peak energy demand in specific New York neighborhoods. Con Edison’s Brownsville substation, which serves the Brooklyn-Queens area, had been overtaxed, particularly in the summer months when electricity demands are high. Along with projects being deployed at a number of other buildings, the Marcus Garvey microgrid lowers electricity demand and helps reduce stress on this section of the electrical grid, which will help Con Edison defer a costly, $1.2 billion system upgrade due to increasing energy demand in the region.

The Marcus Garvey housing complex is owned by L+M Development Partners, owner and developer of many affordable housing projects. The microgrid was installed by Demand Energy and includes 400 kilowatts of rooftop solar, installed by Bright Power, a 400-kilowatt fuel cell system, and 300 kilowatts/1,200 kilowatt-hours of lithium-ion batteries housed in a 40-foot outdoor container.

The microgrid was partially financed through a $1 million, 10-year loan from the nonprofit New York Energy Efficiency Corporation. The financing is based on a shared savings model, where the owner and developer use energy savings to pay off the loan once the system is up and running. The companies will also share revenue from Con Edison payments through the Brooklyn-Queens Neighborhood Program. Program participants receive a capacity payment each year they’re enrolled in the program, and performance payments for each demand response event the microgrid participates in throughout the year.

The Marcus Garvey Apartments project was awarded a 2017 Building Brooklyn Award in July 2017, and has been nominated for a 2017 Energy Storage North American Innovation Award.

Installation Details

Year Commissioned: 2017

Services Provided: Demand management, Demand response, Backup power

Supported Infrastructure: Outdoor lighting, management office, security systems, and a community room that provides lighting, heat, refrigeration for medicines, and cell phone charging

Solar: 400kW

Storage: 300kW/1200kWh lithium-ion batteries

Project Partners: L+M Development Partners, Bright Power, New York Energy Efficiency Corporation, Demand Energy, Con Edison