Innovation by Con Edison engineers has enabled a restaurant supply company in the Bronx to install the largest solar array in New York City and feed excess power into the grid.
The 4,760 high-efficiency SunPower panels at Jetro Cash and Carry’s Restaurant Depot facility provide 1.56 megawatts of electricity for the refrigeration, freezers and other equipment at the business in Hunts Point.
“We are pleased that our smart grid innovations are helping this customer take advantage of solar power’s economic and environmental benefits,” said Margarett Jolly, director of Research and Development for Con Edison.
“The technology we deployed for Jetro can be applied to other large solar installations. That will mean cleaner air and a more reliable and diverse power supply.”
Con Edison currently has about 30 megawatts of solar generation on its system, compared with 8.5 megawatts at the end of 2010.
But the smart grid technology the company deployed for Jetro could be applied for other large installations, leading to a more dramatic rise in the amount of solar generation in the region.
With the government incentives, tax breaks, depreciation and electricity savings, Jetro — which chose Ross Solar Group to design, engineer and install its system — expects to get a return on its investment in about three years.
When the panels produce more power than the building needs — such as when the sun shines on cloudless days — Jetro sends the excess power into the grid, selling it to Con Edison for distribution to other utility customers.
Con Edison invented smart grid technology for the network protectors near the Jetro installation to make that two-way power flow possible.
Con Edison has thousands of network protectors on its system.
The protectors open and take electrical-delivery equipment out of service when they detect a fault. Network protectors with conventional settings would open in response to a large amount of power flowing back into the grid.
The relays on the network protectors associated with Jetro are programmed so that the protectors do not open when power flows into the grid from Jetro. But those protectors will open if they detect an actual fault.
As a backup, the new relays allow Con Edison control room operators to monitor the operations of the solar panels. The operators can isolate the feeders remotely if needed.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided funding toward the Jetro project under the NY-Sun program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to increase the amount of solar generation in the state.