After 1.1 MW energy storage rollout, NYC property owner plans Bronx solar-plus-storage project

Smart Energy Decisions, Oct, 7, 2016

As New York City prepares to beef up energy storage and solar capacities to meet Mayor Bill deBlasio’s newly announced goals, at least one private sector property owner is already ahead of the game.
Glenwood, one of the city’s largest owners and builders of luxury rental apartments, has been working for years on getting energy storage deployed at a number of their properties in the city. What started as a small pilot project at one of their Manhattan buildings has since grown into a significant piece of its energy management and sustainability strategy: Glenwood expects to have approximately 1.1 MW of distributed energy storage installed by early 2017 across its New York City portfolio.

Glenwood’s first system was installed two years ago at its Barclay Tower property in Manhattan, and was originally pursued as a way to help manage demand response events and reduce the building’s grid electricity use during peak hours.  Josh London, vice president of management at Glenwood, who has overseen the rollout of the systems, told Smart Energy Decisions that the success of that installation drove the company to want more.

London said the business case for its behind-the-meter energy storage systems, all of which are being supplied by Demand Energy, quickly made sense to Glenwood, even in the very beginning as it was exploring the feasibility of that first system in 2012. More recent cost reductions in the systems themselves, in addition to increased support in the form of incentives, has made further investment in energy storage a no-brainer.

Glenwood was expecting a 15% reduction on the building’s energy bill as a result of that first system, but its actual savings have been trending even higher.

“With our first system, we tried every which way we could to get any kind of [financial] participation from our utility, the state, or anybody. Back then, they saw it as a brand new technology and no one wanted to jump in, and it was even more expensive back then than it is now, but the business case still made sense for us,” London said. “And it has proved itself, and then some. From our experience with that first pilot system, we decided to deploy 10 more.”

Construction of those 10 additional systems began earlier this year, with commissioning and measurement/verification approvals completed in the first half of 2016. The energy storage systems are expected to be operational for the summer peak load season, and will support the Indian Point Demand Management Program that Glenwood’s utility, Consolidated Edison Inc., or Con Ed, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA, are offering to commercial customers.

“We all need to work together to manage our electric grid and intelligently manage load growth in NYC, and this pioneering technology offers a viable solution,” London said in a news release announcing the rollout earlier this year. “In our mission to expand sustainable practices within the Glenwood portfolio, energy storage is an ideal solution that helps Con Ed and NYSERDA solve real and pressing problems in managing the grid, while simultaneously elevating the quality of life at our properties.”

In the case of demand response, Glenwood says energy storage is helping to lessen the impact felt by its tenants as a result of the company’s participation in demand response events.

“Years ago, in demand response, we had a whole protocol to do, and we had to do it manually. We would turn off lights, lower air conditioning, shut elevators down and make people wait longer for the other ones that are still on, and we had to do that all manually,” London said. “And if you do it enough, there is a bit of exhaustion to it. And our customers, who were in effect, taking away services from, even if it was out of necessity, were getting tired of it too, and we were starting to get feedback from them. So at that point, we didn’t stop, we kind of modified it a little bit, but when we had three, four, five days and a row, we backed off on center things because we just can’t have tenants coming into hot lobbies day after day after day. So what I started to see was that that program was really maxed out and not, in my view, reliable to be the way that we save the grid from going into overload here in the city.”

Looking forward, Glenwood expects to add a third element to its business case for energy storage: Rooftop solar optimization. Beyond the 10 systems it is currently installing across its New York City portfolio, Glenwood is planning one more, a 100 kW battery system that will work in conjunction with a planned, 106-kW rooftop solar system at one of its buildings in the Bronx. That storage-plus-solar system is currently in the approval/permitting process, with work expected to begin in the coming months with a targeted completion in spring 2017.

“What’s great about this solar installation is that we’re not going to net meter the power, we’re going to store it” London said. “The software that Demand Energy has is capable of using stored power and solar to totally max out the benefit.”

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