BY BROOKE SMITH
When the power grid is drained due to running air conditioners during summer months, Con Edison hopes to keep Howard Beach and surrounding areas cool and electrified with a new battery backup system.
Representatives of the electric company described the system, which is part of Con Ed’s Brooklyn Queens Demand Management (BQDM) program, during a meeting last week with residents at the New York Families for Autistic Children Center in Howard Beach.
The battery installation, supplied by RES American Construction Inc., is being built at a site on 151st Avenue and 79th Street. It will serve as an additional power source during the peak season during summer months where energy is being demanded the most by air conditioners and other appliances.
Each 1 megawatt battery can power up to 1,000 homes and run for approximately 12 hours before needing to recharge.
The program was proposed after Con Edison projected a load growth in the need for electricity that will exceed their capabilities in 2018. Traditionally, this would demand the building of a $1.2 billion substation.
To offset this need until 2024, the battery program will be implemented with the reduced cost of $200 million. The cost will be reflected by Con Edison users in all of the five boroughs.
“This is offsetting some of the megawatts needed so that all the customers can be serviced even on the hottest day when all the air conditioners are running, which is what the full BQDM program is designed for,” said Queens Director of Con Edison Public Affairs Carol Conslato.
Construction will begin in the second quarter of 2016 and should be completed by early 2017. A 10-foot wall will be built to enclose the batteries, and trees will be planted for aesthetic appeal. Con Edison sent out 240 invitations to residents living in the surrounding blocks of the future site to notify them of the meeting and construction plans.
“With the exceeding of our capabilities, we said what’s a new way to look at this rather than a traditional utilities center, which would be building a substation,” said Lou Cedrone, Con Edison department manager for distribution engineering. “We looked at two areas. We said what can we do for the customers and we asked what can we do for utilities as a way of approaching this differently.”
This meeting was the first introduction of the battery program to the community. Concerns from members of the community ranged from noise levels to environmental effects.
Sound surveys done by Con Edison showed that the noise from batteries will be equal to or less than the surrounding sounds of the area. The 10-foot wall will also serve as a barrier for any ambient noise.
According to Con Edison, the battery produces no emissions and is not threatening to the environment. There is a 24/7 monitoring system built into each battery unit that reports back to their control system. In the event that any battery should malfunction, the battery will be shut off immediately.
Work notices and updates will be given to elected officials and community boards as construction nears.