Smart DG Hub: Emergency Power


The City University of New York (CUNY) serves as one of NYC’s prime partners in its coastal storm shelter operations. Sustainable CUNY leads the implementation of Federal, State and City initiatives creating a comprehensive and streamlined infrastructure for the wide scale adoption of solar technology in NYC. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy it was determined that while the 672 solar arrays on NYC rooftops at that time sustained little or no damage during the storm, they were unable to supply critically needed power during the subsequent outage. While the capability exists, in order to tap into this resource on a broad scale, key issues such as system design, costs, technology integration, incentive structure, codes and regulations need to be addressed.



In January of 2013 CUNY convened a working meeting for local, regional and federal agencies as well as key industry partners to discuss energy infrastructure resiliency in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the third storm to seriously compromise NYC’s power supply in less than 2 years. (see presentation) It was the consensus, that NYC, and other at-risk areas, would benefit from a coordinated focus in order to incorporate emergency functionality within existing and future distributed generation (DG) deployment. In addition, with the prolonged and extensive interruption to several key energy services, general sentiment reflected a need to strengthen and extend energy planning and design towards more resilient energy infrastructure, and reinforce options for integrating emergency distributed power generation in a more comprehensive manner. (See CUNY presentation on left)


Correlated with the outages seen in Sandy and past storms, the participants tended to focus on the electric grid, while acknowledging similar challenges for transportation fuels and services as well as regional areas that experienced natural gas interruptions or more broadly the loss of heating system functionality. Smart DG Hub Meeting Report <pdf>



Integrating Resilient DG Energy Systems 

CUNY utilized the framework depicted here to facilitate meeting conversations and the formation of the Smart DG Hub. This graphic illustrates how pilot projects can bridge the needs of market innovation and deployment across legal and policy decision-makers, finance institutions, and the software and hardware companies bringing solutions to the market. As an example, deploying dynamically controlled inverters, which are emerging technologies for smart and resilient DG applications, draws heavily upon research and development teams in coordination with software and communication protocols, finance and the regulatory environment.


First Steps

Smart DG Hub

The participants at the working meeting agreed on the need to establishing a platform to realize the goals of a more resilient DG infrastructure.  Accordingly, CUNY agreed to continue convening this group and to assisting with developing the projects proposed in partnership with the group. The Smart Distributed Generation Hub will gather together and foster deployment of the innovations required to realize the vision of a more resilient energy grid.

Solar & Emergency Power FAQ

Together with NYSERDA, Con Edison and leading inverter companies, Sustainable CUNY developed an FAQ to provide responses to questions raised concerning the potential for solar photovoltaics (PV) to provide power during wide spread utility outages. The questions and answers broadly address whether it is currently possible to retrofit or purchase a PV system that will provide backup power in the event of grid failure. Solar & Emergency Power FAQ

Inverter’s Roundtable

Sustainable CUNY and NYSERDA convened the first meeting of the Inverter’s Roundtable in March of 2013. The goal of the roundtable is to establish an informed conduit between the inverter industry and the Smart DG Hub, identify pilot projects and better inform policy makers who are considering rebuilding options and new measures.

NYC Resilient Inverter Workshop

CUNY convened NYC’s first Resilient Inverter Workshop on June 5th, bringing in  five of the top inverter companies to present to NYC solar installers and stakeholders new- or new to New York- technologies that will ideally help create a more resilient New York City. Presentations

Next Steps

The significant ideas and issues discussed by the thought leaders at the initial Smart DG Hub meeting will serve as seeds to grow projects for implementing change and creating next generation technologies. The ideas and issues will continue to be structured into four working areas: (1) hardware technologies, (2) software and communication technologies, (3) policy, legal and regulatory schemes, and (4) economic and finance modeling. Sustainable CUNY, through the Hub, will share these ideas in an effort to create partnerships for implementation and is committed to continue its leadership in transforming energy markets and innovation pathways. Several projects are currently underway.

For additional information please contact Sustainable CUNY at: