Soup Kitchen and Brooklyn Microgrid Team up for Energy Resilience

A soup kitchen and homeless shelter for pregnant women in Park Slope, Brooklyn plans to become a microgrid hub for the local community. The nonprofit CHiPs, is teaming up with Brooklyn Microgrid to purchase solar panels for their rooftop and hopefully generate enough electricity to share with neighbors.

community mural on the Brooklyn microgrid building

CHiPs feeds 250 people a day from its soup kitchen and houses nine homeless families in the building’s all-electric residential units. Building operators pays a hefty price for heating and cooling the kitchen while individual residents pay their own electricity.

Funded by LO3 Energy and established in 2015, Brooklyn Microgrid launched its first community project in April 2016. This innovative “sandbox” experiment on President street enables peer-to-peer energy transactions so that neighbors can buy and sell electricity from each other. Brooklyn Microgrid is in the process of expanding this pilot program to enroll more customers in the neighborhood.

residential street project as part of Brooklyn microgrid

Microgrid Generates Electricity in Your Neighborhood

Due to emergency power outages caused by Hurricane Sandy, the governor’s office issued a proposal to develop microgrids that would ensure energy resilience for local communities. Instead of transmitting from long distances, the energy will be generated more efficiently onsite or nearby.

A microgrid generates energy at or near homes and facilities (rather than at the centralized grid), provides localized battery storage, and enables neighbors to buy and sell electricity to each other when needed.

The purpose of the CHiPs project is to enable more energy resilience and provide reliable electricity in the event of emergency power outages. With a clear line of sight to the sun, the building is ideal for solar panel placement.

Brooklyn Microgrid as Electricity Hub

CHiPS towers over most of the other buildings in this manufacturing district. Due to the building’s prominent location, Brooklyn Microgrid representatives hope the solar panels will act as an advertising billboard creating more visibility for microgrids and clean energy.

The solar PVs will generate 30-50 Kilowatts (kW) of electricity on top of the CHiPs building, producing just enough electricity for the building. With an energy audit to identify more efficient energy opportunities, Brooklyn Microgrid hopes there will be additional electricity for CHiPs to sell and help meet cash-strapped budget requirements.

Watch this short video to get more inspired about how one community in Brooklyn hopes to become energy resilient in the event of future emergency energy outages.

Author: Kathryn Thomsen

Founder of Hundredgivers, a nonprofit supporting and accelerating sustainability initiatives benefiting local and global communities. Kathryn is a social entrepreneur, consultant, researcher, writer and urban farmer. She collaborates with individuals, organizations, and businesses to develop climate change solutions, clean energy, and sustainability strategies and programs.

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