Success Story: CEG Helps Aries Power Advance Microgrid Project for Albany’s University Heights
In 2013, Jason Allen wrapped up a 15-year career at GE Energy to launch a distributed energy development and consulting firm called Allen Power Inc. (API). Pulling from Allen’s extensive experience with various turbine and combined cycle power systems, API (now doing business as Aries Power) helps commercial, industrial and residential customers lower their energy costs and develop greener footprints. The firm also helps those customers improve reliability through the deployment of stand-alone power generation, such as combined heat and power (CHP) or microgrid suites at or near their sites. Earlier this year, Jean-Paul (J.P.) Monteau, former Director of Engineering for AMRI, joined Aries as a business partner, bringing even more engineering depth to the team.
In February 2015, the state announced the launch of NY Prize, a $40 million competition designed to encourage the adoption of microgrids that communities can tap into in the event of power outages. Recognizing that NY Prize’s goal aligned with API’s, Center for Economic Growth (CEG) Energy and Program Sustainability Program Manager Peter Lion notified Allen about the new initiative, which is administered by the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA). Lion also provided Allen with up-to-date information on the program and other opportunities to drive down the economics of a microgrid project.
API looked at multiple sites for a NY Prize microgrid project, but the firm selected Albany’s University Heights neighborhood with CEG’s help. CEG introduced Allen to a contact in the city’s planning department, who then connected him with representatives of prospective end-users of the University Heights neighborhood. The city also provided a letter of support for API’s proposal.
“The CEG and Peter were very helpful….The project probably would not have happened at all [without their help],” Allen said.
In summer 2015, API’s University Heights proposal was one of 83 NY Prize projects selected by NYSERDA for stage 1 funding to conduct a feasibility study. API’s microgrid feasibility study considered the installation of distributed generation and controls technology at nine University Heights end-users with a 10-year payback timeline.
“This isn’t a matter of gas vs renewables only. This is about making the grid stronger,” said Allen.
In October 2016, API submitted a proposal for stage 2 funding to cover a more detailed engineering and economic analysis of a microgrid. The project would cover five major University Heights sites: Albany Law School, Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (ACPHS), Capital District Psychiatric Center, Congregation Beth Emeth, and Parsons Child and Family Center. API’s partners for this project include GE Energy Consulting, LaBella Associates, Joule Assets, The Michael Barnas Law Firm and Red Hook Solar.
Last March, API’s University Heights proposal was one of only 11 microgrid projects to receive stage 2 funding. Allen expects to complete that stage 2 work by next April. NYSERDA expects to issue a request for proposals for stage 3 project build-outs next May. The RFP deadline is expected to be in August 2018 and winners will be announced in October 2018.
“We’re very excited about the opportunity to solve our clients’ [energy] problems and improve our client’s economics,” Allen said. Aries Power currently has several other projects in development in the Capital Region incorporating solar, combined heat and power and battery storage.
For more information about CEG’s Energy and Sustainability Program, contact Program Manager Peter Lion at 518-465-8975 X234 or email@example.com.
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