Residents of a social housing complex in Brooklyn, New York, can’t stop another tempest like Superstorm Sandy from crashing through their city, but they can feel secure that it won’t cause a power cut. In June, the 625-unit Marcus Garvey Village cut the ribbon on its very own microgrid, a localised network of electricity production and control. Rooftop solar panels produce clean power when the sun is up; a fuel cell takes in natural gas and churns out a steady current all day; when it’s more valuable to save the electricity for later, the largest lithium-ion battery system on New York City’s grid does just that. These contraptions – which cost $4m (£3m) to install – reduce the community’s monthly power bill by 10% to 20%. “It helps keep the housing cost affordable,” said Doug Staker, co-founder of Demand Energy, the company that developed and operates the microgrid. Italian utility Enel acquired Demand Energy earlier this year.