Reviewing the Future Grid Challenge

In July 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Future Grid Challenge, led by the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). The Future Grid Challenge is part of the Clean Energy Fund Grid Modernization Investment Plan, which provides $110 million to make the grid more sustainable and adapt it to climate change threats.

The goal of the Future Grid Challenge is to modernize the grid with new and innovative solutions to meet objectives of the New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and the Green New Deal. Under the CLCPA, New York strives to reach 79% renewable electricity by 2030 and a carbon-free grid by 2040. This challenge will encourage and fund up to $15 million for grid companies and research institutions to devise solutions directed at issues faced by the current power grid.

NYSERDA announced the five winners of the first two rounds of the Future Grid Challenge on March 26, 2020. These teams will collaborate with several NY utilities—including Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Consolidated Edison, and National Grid—to expedite the transition to a renewable energy grid. Their solutions are creative, cost-effective, and will mobilize New York toward a carbon-free grid.

The winning teams are:

  • ConnectDER, UL/AWS Truepower and Itron: This group will create cheaper monitoring technology and implement an upgraded communications platform to transfer solar data and information directly into Con Edison’s current Advanced Meter Infrastructure (AMI).
  • Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) Integrated Analytics and Clean Power Research: To optimize planning and overall operation at Con Edison, this team will produce a system of data collection for energy resource generation that operates constantly.
  • Smarter Grid Solutions, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Borrego Solar: To improve smart inverter integration at Orange & Rockland’s Advanced Distribution Management System (ADMS), the team will test smart inverter functions to gain a better comprehension of the capabilities and how it assists grid stability, voltage, and potentially decreases loss of systems.
  • EPRI, Schneider Electric, General Electric and Smarter Grid Solutions: This group will work with Central Hudson Gas & Electric on a project that aims to generate a scalable grid to incorporate more renewable energy and allow for wider distribution and transmission of this energy to consumers.
  • Utilidata, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), Standard Solar and Chint Power Systems: In conjunction with National Grid, the team will work to better understand solar power integration across utilities and determine the feasibility of using smart inverters to transition the grid to fully renewable energy while enhancing system reliability and voltage optimization.

The Future Grid Challenge is an essential component in New York’s fight to become more sustainable, resilient, and efficient in the wake of climate change. These five teams will go on to implement their projects and help prepare New York for a carbon-free and fully renewable energy system.