- Associated Press - Thursday, April 21, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - New York state is holding a contest to see which local communities can create the best plans for local, independent energy networks designed to keep the lights on during natural disasters.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that the state will award up to $1 million to eight winners who submit the best plans for community microgrids.

Microgrids are typically smaller, independent power systems for hospitals, schools, water plants or other facilities that can continue to operate even if the main electrical grid is down. They rely on local electrical generation, including wind and solar power.

Municipal governments, school districts, community organizations and nonprofit groups can all submit proposals.

Cuomo says the idea behind the competition is to make communities more resilient and encourage the use of clean, reliable energy.

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