Powering Strong Communities

New York Power Authority Eyes Bulk-Scale Battery Storage Projects

The New York Power Authority (NYPA) recently issued a request for proposals (RFP) for the potential use of peaker plant sites and related electric infrastructure for the development of bulk-scale battery storage projects.

NYPA said that the RFP release comes after the review of promising study results indicating that NYPA’s peaker plants located in New York City could begin the transition to low or zero carbon emission technologies well ahead of NYPA’s VISION2030 goal of decarbonization by 2035 and the state’s goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040.

The NYPA Small Clean Power Plant Adaptation Study, prepared in consultation with the PEAK Coalition, a group of environmental justice and clean energy advocates, demonstrates that four-hour duration battery storage has the potential to replace the energy currently provided by NYPA’s individual plants, if certain key conditions are met, by 2030, NYPA said.

The study was commissioned by NYPA to analyze potential clean energy options to decarbonize NYPA’s peaker plants.

Study researchers examined energy forecasts of changes in the New York electric supply mix as well as changes in demand over the next two decades, showing that as early as 2030, with the advent of more renewable energy coming into New York City, and a resulting decrease in the expected frequency and duration of run times, four-hour energy storage could provide enough energy to fully replace the operations of each individual small clean power plant unit.

NYPA said that the implementation of these technologies has the potential to also help accelerate progress in attaining the clean energy goals outlined in New York State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, legislation that calls for zero-emission electricity in New York State by 2040 and are complimentary to Governor Hochul’s 2022 State of the State commitment to phase out New York City’s older, most-polluting fossil-fuel facilities by exploring ways to repurpose and redevelop fossil-based electric infrastructure by 2030. 

Further study will be needed to assess resiliency and reliability impacts at the plant level, as well as capacity requirements required by the New York Independent System Operator and Con Edison, the investor-owned utility that provides direct energy services to New York City residents.

Additional analysis will also be needed to ensure that any envisioned retrofit, replacement or retirement does not result in an increase in carbon emissions or other criteria pollutants from less efficient fossil-fired power plants in New York City, NYPA noted.

In 2001, NYPA installed natural gas-fired peaker plants at six locations in New York City and one on Long Island. They operate infrequently -- roughly 10 percent of the time, in recent years, when directed to do so to meet energy demands -- providing local reliability and resiliency.

The study’s analysis is focused solely on NYPA’s in-city peaker plants.

 The following is a summary of the study’s key findings:

  • Given site characteristics and battery density assumptions, each peaker plant site presents opportunities for adaptation strategies, including full, or close to full, replacement with battery storage by 2030;
  • As electrification loads increase and New York shifts to a 100% decarbonized system by 2040, a system-wide reliability need is expected, that requires energy resources with capabilities for longer dispatch durations that batteries alone may not satisfy;
  • Based on historical output levels, the frequency and duration of NYPA’s peaker plants’ run-times would make full replacement with battery storage impossible; however, by 2030, the frequency and duration of the plants’ run-times are projected to decline, allowing for the possibility of full replacement with 4-hour battery storage at each individual site;
  • Under a more ambitious view of decarbonization in New York City, represented in an alternative scenario, there may be opportunities to further displace higher-emitting fossil generation, which would lead to significant reductions in local NOx emissions;
  • As New York State adds more renewable energy, energy storage and transmission resources to meet the goals of the Climate Act, fossil-fired generation in New York City is predicted to decline significantly.

The findings of the study are dependent on production cost modelling assumptions, such as the future build-out and integration of more renewable resources and future transmission and distribution development and modernization.

While the study results indicate the potential of energy storage, the same results, also indicate that beyond 2030, as more electrification drives an increase in electricity demand, the system-wide energy need during periods of low renewable output will require perfect capacity (on-demand, reliable, and without duration constraints) energy resources or longer duration storage technologies to fill the gap and avoid reliability issues.

NYPA said it will be moving forward towards decarbonization through the implementation of several actions including the RFP’s issuance for the development of bulk-scale battery storage projects. Bids are due May 24, 2022, with potential awards announced July 1, 2022.  For more information on the RFP go to  NYPA’s Procurement website. 

In addition, NYPA will:

  • Continue Ongoing Stakeholder Engagement: NYPA said it is committed to continued engagement with community stakeholders to ensure that the peakers located in disadvantaged communities are prioritized for adaptation;
  • Undertake Initial Reliability Analysis: NYPA will facilitate the necessary reliability assessments to advance towards the VISION2030 goal of decarbonization by 2035.
  • Develop Strategic Roadmap: NYPA will develop an internal working roadmap for the organization’s near-term strategy for its peakers by end of 2022, in alignment with VISION2030. The roadmap will be revisited on a regular basis to reflect changes in reliability, system resilience, policy and technological feasibility.

The study, conducted by Energy and Environmental Economics, Inc. (E3) and General Electric Energy Consulting, was commissioned by NYPA in consultation with the PEAK Coalition, and was supported by Strategen Consulting, as part of an agreement signed in 2020 between the two groups to assess how NYPA could transition its natural gas fired small clean power plants to use clean energy technologies, such as battery storage and low to zero carbon emission resources and technologies, while continuing to meet the unique electricity reliability and resiliency requirements of New York City.

The study is available here.  

The American Public Power Association’s Public Power Energy Tracker is a resource for association members that summarizes public power energy storage projects that are currently online. The tracker is available here.