Community Energy Districts and Smart Microgrids are two methods for realizing the tremendous savings and revenue benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy generation. They can work independently or can be integrated into the same area.
CEDs are proving to be very strong economic development drivers. They attract new business and businesses, save participants energy and money as well as bring jobs and energy system reliability. Each district can tailor the mix of resources and strategies that fit the circumstances within the district. They also require a different mindset and formation of new partnerships.
Microgrid development within the CED or associated with it would enable businesses and other participants to lower energy savings costs and receive revenue from electricity markets that are not available without the shared investment that gives sufficient capacity to be profitable. They operate connected to the existing utility grid, but can also operate independently since they provide a second energy supply which provides reliable power supply and consistent high quality energy.
A short sketch of how this would operate at two levels follows. Start with the Health and Family Services Complex east of Liberty. On the energy supply side, geo-thermalize the lake to provide heat for the Adult Care Center. Install heat pumps to provide air conditioning. Erect the 2 megawatt wind turbine that has been designed for this site. Expand the solar electric system by 300% that is already up and running at the Travis building. Perform deep retrofits of building exteriors so that the energy efficient, non fossil fuel energy system benefits are secured. Provide energy storage for all of the on-site produced energy. Build charging stations for 10 or more electric vehicles as a pilot on reducing transportation cost. At a 65% savings in energy obtained from current electric vehicles, $3000/year fuel savings for government vehicles and subsidies for purchase of such vehicles, this is very affordable and makes a significant contribution to our understanding of financial and environmental savings in the transportation sector. When the vehicles are not running, they will provide continuous and back-up power to buildings. The 2 mw wind turbine and larger solar electric installation will provide 100% of the HFS complex energy needs and make available sufficient additional electricity to power the government center in Monticello or to the immediate HFS neighbors. No fossil fuels are used
There are several ways to power the county government center and its neighbor buildings and enterprises. Creating another energy district for Monticello or some sections of it, for example. However, a preferred strategy is to stay in Liberty and form a smart, microgird of neighboring enterprises, shopping malls, Sullivan County Community College, New Hope Community, residential clusters, and the town and village of Liberty itself. By forming a contractual partnership with NYSEG, smart meters can be installed on the low and medium voltage distribution system. Just a few meters on this energy distribution loop can capture the energy consumption of all participants. This will lead to demand response energy savings that save money and generate extra revenue by collaborations among participants to lower energy demand during peak periods.
Local control and collaboration is they key to opening a better future. It may be our only way out of the vice grip of increasing costs. Who will invest the talent and finance to move toward a sustainable future?