Resiliency Project holds third community workshop

“Hurricane Sandy was an eye-opener. People realized how vulnerable our community was,” said Illea Burgos, outreach coordinator for the Green Worker Cooperative.

Lucia Hernandez, Ilea Burgos, and Angela Tovar attend the 23rd annual Bronx Speak Up! event at Lehman College.

Residents, business owners, community organizations, and other local stakeholders gathered to hear more about the progress of an initiative to strengthen energy resources and flood resiliency in the peninsula, and to discuss a sustainable and cost efficient plan of action.

The Hunts Point Resiliency Project, a $45 million study funded by federal and city agencies, held its third community workshop at The Point on March 8. The project began four years after Superstorm Sandy hit New York in 2012.

“Hurricane Sandy was an eye-opener. People realized how vulnerable our community was,” said Illea Burgos, outreach coordinator for the Green Worker Cooperative. As part of the project, residents and local leaders are working with the city’s Economic Development Corporation to ensure that in the event of another superstorm, the peninsula is protected, and also at the same time, working to bring everyday clean power to the peninsula.

“The investment in resiliency is something that is really critical for the neighborhood,” said The Point’s director of community development, Angela Tovar.

The project was first developed through Hunts Point Lifelines, one of six winning proposals nationwide that came out of the Rebuild by Design competition launched by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development in June 2013. The city’s Economic Development Corporation, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency, selected HDR Inc. to carry out two feasibility studies for flood risk reduction and renewable energy, as well as come up with a design for a resilient energy pilot project.

As a result of ongoing community engagement workshops facilitated by the Interaction Institute for Social Change, the top-five energy resiliency technologies have been identified, and the city is currently assessing how each technology could be implemented in Hunts Point.

“The city wants the community to know what’s going on, so that residents could have their voices heard with the city,” said Lucia Hernandez, Hunts Point neighborhood outreach advocate.

“As advocates, we’re trying to listen to our community needs and give as much feedback as possible and really work with the city,” Tovar added.

The five energy resiliency technologies that are being assessed for the pilot project are:
• Combined Cycle Microgrid: A microgrid is a group of interconnected electrical loads and generation that offer the lowest operational costs of all the technologies evaluated and are fully dispatchable in emergencies.
• Emergency Reciprocating Engines: These are proven to be reliable, dispatchable, and operable during emergencies. However, this technology is less energy efficient and produces higher emissions than others under consideration. Reciprocating engines fueled by natural gas, biogas, or diesel could provide power to multiple industrial and community businesses. This option includes mobile and stationary units, and will require transfer switches and gas interconnections at each intended facility.
• Anaerobic Digestion: Anaerobic digestion is a process by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen to produce renewable fuel (biogas). The renewable fuel would be integrated into microgrid systems by powering other generators.
• Rooftop Solar PV with Battery Storage: Rooftop solar PV with battery storage isn’t fully dispatchable during emergencies, but is a renewable energy that provides good air quality benefits. This technology consists of a bank of batteries tied to a solar photovoltaic (PV) system and electrical grid. The PV panels generate power when the sun is available to provide power to the batteries.
• Power Hub: The Power Hub is a small scale power plant built inside a building, and uses three power generation technologies: a micro-combined heat and power plant (mCHP), solar PV and energy storage.

“The overall goal is to find a plan that can reduce air emissions in the community and also at the same time bring everyday clean power in the event of an emergency,” said Tovar. “So there’s a lot of exciting potential.”

The March 8th meeting did not result in a vote but option 1, the Combined Cycle Microgrid, is considered the likeliest of the five possible projects to get the nod.

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