Resiliency, Critical Infrastructure and Microgrids in New York (NYAE Q1 2019)

- Isabella Suarez, AEG Fellow

The Northern Hemisphere was hit by a polar vortex at the beginning of 2019. In the United States, regions of the eastern coast experienced Arctic-cold wind, the Midwest reached 30-year lows in temperature resulting in declared states of emergency, while parts of the western coast experienced warmer-than-usual temperatures. Although the polar vortex itself is a natural phenomenon, scientists hypothesize that its effects could become more severe and frequent as a result of climate change. These changing conditions will continue to cause significant strain on infrastructure and energy systems across the country. New York City remains committed to reinforcing its infrastructure and reinventing its systems to make it more resilient.

The NYC Office of the Mayor released the Climate Resiliency Design Guidelines in April 2018; this report acknowledged the need to adapt to changing climatic realities such as extreme heat and cold, sea level rise, and extreme precipitation. According to Susanne DesRoches, one of AEG’s Q1 discussion leaders and the NYC Office of the Mayor’s Deputy Director for Infrastructure and Energy, the guidelines were “developed to make New York City’s buildings and infrastructure stronger and more resilient to the impacts of climate change.” The Office utilized data collected by the New York City Panel on Climate Change (NPCC) and solicited input from 15 different New York City departments and agencies to provide a resource that “equips engineers and planners with the tools they need to integrate future climate data into their designs.” Because climate change risk to projects varies, design adjustments will depend on the project’s purpose, site location, and funding. It must consider

  1. A “soft” or “hard” resiliency strategy;

  2. The possibility of addressing multiple climate hazards with a single intervention; and

  3. The ability to couple reduction of climate change risk with other goals like energy efficiency or emissions reduction where appropriate and cost-effective.

DesRoches shared that one of the Office’s top challenges to implementation was “demonstrating the value of climate resilient design, which can incur higher upfront costs.” By providing both climate change projections and scalable design adjustments and interventions - in response to threats that have already impacted New York - the guidelines could encourage both municipal asset owners and private companies to be climate-smart about their investments. The Office is planning to release Version 3.0 of the guidelines by March 2019, enforcing its commitment to robustly prepare the city for a new reality.

Since New York City facilities remain in use for many decades, it’s critically important that they be designed to withstand the long-term impacts of climate change based on the best available science.
— Susanne DesRoches, NYC Office of the Mayor’s Deputy Director for Infrastructure and Energy

The New York Power Authority’s (NYPA) $250 million budget for resiliency and grid flexibility reflects this same commitment. The allocation is set to fund up to 150 MWs of energy storage and demand management. It will supplement funding for microgrids, solar PV, and smart meter technologies, while revitalizing ongoing, long-term plans such as the Clean Distributed Energy Resource (DER) Grant Program and EVolve NY. Each project will include software technology that feeds into the authority’s energy management system, in line with its goal to become the first all-digital utility in North America.

Within New York, other industry players and stakeholders are also factoring resiliency into their strategic planning by incorporating technology into their day-to-day operations and future blueprints. In October 2018, ConEdison announced a $100 million plan to improve the resiliency of the overhead electrical distribution system in Westchester County over the next four years, continuing its post-Sandy efforts to upgrade electric networks, reinforce multi-use tunnels, and build storm-resilient infrastructure. A $15.5 million solicitation by NYSERDA for commercial energy projects is also being offered in order to encourage value stacking distributed energy storage — capturing several different revenue streams from one project. Distributed technologies are being deployed across many different systems, from retrofitting in buildings to full microgrids in communities and boroughs. New technologies like Medium Voltage Direct Current (MVDC) converters, installed at both ends of transmission connections, could stabilize both the wider distribution network as well as microgrid systems by minimizing losses when voltage is converted from AC to DC.

Hosted at ConEdison’s HQ, the New York Advanced Energy Q1 2019 Stakeholder Series on Resiliency, Critical Infrastructure and Microgrids will be held on February 21, bringing together experts, private and public stakeholders, and utilities to address these challenges and collaborate on solutions. Our Breakfast Discussion Leaders will feature industry experts involved with innovative projects and initiatives around the city, including:

  • Steve Martino, Vice President - MEP Division Leader, Savin Engineers

  • Matt Ketschke, Senior Vice President, Con Edison

  • Susanne DesRoches, Deputy Director, Infrastructure and Energy, NYC Mayor's Office of Resiliency, Office of Sustainability

  • Charles Hermann, Senior Engineer, Energy Services Product Development, New York Power Authority

  • Mohamed “Mo” Kamaludeen, Manager, Distribution Planning, Con Edison

AEG will facilitate a discussion on the ways that industry players are adapting to the changing world by increasing resiliency, and the role that technologies like distributed generation and microgrids will continue to play in new energy landscapes. 


Advanced Energy Group is a stakeholder member-supported organization committed to developing and delivering advanced energy policies and solutions in key cities.  Stakeholder sessions are by invitation only.  For details of our programming please visit:

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