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State to Fund Red Hook Houses Power Grid Study After Sandy Flooding

By Nikhita Venugopal | October 9, 2014 11:51am
 Red Hook Houses East, one half of Brooklyn's largest public housing complex.
Red Hook Houses East, one half of Brooklyn's largest public housing complex.
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DNAinfo/Nikhita Venugopal

RED HOOK — A large Red Hook NYCHA development went weeks without electricity after Hurricane Sandy — but a potential dedicated power grid for its buildings could keep that from happening again, officials say.

A feasibility study is slated for the Red Hook Houses, Brooklyn’s largest public housing complex, to determine the viability of a resilient and self-sufficient source of power for its tenants, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday.

The study was one of several proposed by Red Hook’s NY Rising Community Reconstruction Committee, a state initiative to assist communities damaged by recent weather-related disasters, earlier this year.

At the time, the committee estimated the study would cost $300,000.

The Red Hook Houses were one of the worst affected NYCHA developments during Sandy. Flooding in the basements damaged the buildings’ boilers and electrical networks, which took weeks to restore. Residents also still rely on temporary boilers nearly two years after the storm.

The state-funded study will look into the possibility of creating a “microgrid” in Red Hook Houses, a group of interconnected networks and distributed energy resources connected to a larger grid, according to a statement.

If needed, the grid would be able to operate in “island” mode, making it a self-sufficient source of power if the main energy source fails or is unavailable. The study would determine the best locations for the grid away from flood-prone areas.

If the microgrid is deemed a viable option for Red Hook, it could potentially serve 2,800 NYCHA apartments, as well as the Miccio Community Center.

The findings of the study would provide detailed cost estimates and could help direct microgrid projects at other NYCHA developments in the city, officials said.

“Superstorm Sandy showed us the importance of adjusting to the new normal of extreme weather, and today we’re seeing communities like Red Hook do that by coming together and building back stronger than ever before,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“The Red Hook NY Rising Committee identified energy resiliency as a top priority, and by funding this study we are helping them make that goal a reality.”