Con Edison’s Water Street Network in Brooklyn is among its oldest electrical distribution networks. It has become stressed by the increasing electrical demands of robust real estate development and is increasingly impacted by extreme weather and coastal flooding events. To bolster the network’s reliability and resiliency, a private micro-utility, with approval from the New York Public Service Commission and Con Edison, proposed construction of a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to reduce future brownouts and outages within the network by introducing increased capacity, flexibility, and control into the power microgrid.
Construction of the BESS on the roof and exterior ground floor level of an existing seven-story residential building on Berry Street in densely populated, historic Brooklyn Community District 1 required a Special Permit (BSA §73-14) from the City of New York. It is the first such permit requested for a residential building. Residents of the building expressed numerous concerns which GZA’s planners addressed in the CEQR process.
GZA’s CEQR documentation included acoustic/noise/vibration studies; visual assessment and urban design; fire and blast analyses; extremely low frequency wave (ELF) generation analysis; and professional testimony.
The comprehensive acoustic/noise/vibration study included sound monitoring conducted at an existing facility in California to identify the sound generation properties of the components (including storage cubes, transformer, and inverters); using SoundPlan, a sound model was built; data was compared to NYC noise codes; and then tailored, custom-designed mitigations were developed to address exceedances. The visual assessment addressed shadows and urban design recommendations to reduce the visual impact of the facility on the adjacent park. A thorough fire and blast safety analysis was prepared as well as comprehensive research on the impact of ELF generated by the transformers. GZA planners attended public meetings to provide professional testimony on its analyses and findings. Negotiation between the private micro-utility and the building residents continues.
GZA’s planners tackled a first-of-its-kind Special Permit, helping navigate the process to create small substations, which experts anticipate will become integral to reliable and resilient power distribution in densely populated urban areas with aging utility infrastructure.