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Climate Change and the Energy Sector: DOE Guide for Climate Change Resilience Planning

September 2016

From the U. S. Department of Energy (DOE), this report examines the current and potential future impacts of climate change and extreme weather on the U. S. energy sector. The report provides step-wise guidance to building a vulnerability assessment framework and a subsequent resilience plan for electric utility assets and operations. The guide highlights a number of available tools, projections, sample metrics, and completed assessments to support planners in identifying risks, evaluating options, and developing effective plans.

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Enhancing Community Resilience through Energy Efficiency

October 2015

Enhancing Community Resilience through Energy Efficiency, produced by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, evaluates the effectiveness of energy efficiency as a resiliency strategy. This report aims to aid local governments, businesses, and community decision makers in assessing risk, and integrating energy efficiency into resilience planning.

Authors or Affiliated Users: David Ribeiro, Eric Mackres, Brendon Baatz, Rachel Cluett, Michael Jarrett, Meegan Kelly, Shruti Vaidyanathan

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What Cities Should Do: A Guide to Resilient Power Planning

March 2015

What Cities Should Do: A Guide to Resilient Power Planning is a series of guidelines and best practices for cities and towns preparing for widespread power outages from severe weather events. According to the authors, cities should have resilient power plans for critical public and private facilities in order to protect their most vulnerable citizens - but few cities have focused on risks and mitigation strategies associated with extended grid power outages for critical assets. This paper calls for a systematic approach to protect critical facilities with resilient power solutions, including solar photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage, combined heat-and-power (CHP), and fuel cells systems.

Authors or Affiliated Users: Lew Milford, Robert Sanders

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Bronzeville Microgrid - Chicago, Illinois

2019

The Bronzeville Microgrid project deployed in a neighborhood in the South Side of Chicago, Illinois demonstrates how utilities can invest in pilot microgrid projects to benefit underserved communities. Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEd) implemented a 7.7 MW community microgrid that will provide service to approximately 770 customers in the historically black neighborhood of Bronzeville Chicago. The project, which is a key component of the utility’s “Community of the Future Initiative,” will serve an area that includes facilities that provide critical services, including hospitals, police headquarters, fire departments, a library, public works buildings, restaurants, health clinics, public transportation, educational facilities, and churches. Bronzeville, considered to be a climate vulnerable urban area, was selected using a data-driven process and based on many socioeconomic factors including income, public health, and lack of investment in the community’s existing infrastructure. 

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Port of Long Beach, California Microgrid

2018

In early 2018 the Port of Long Beach, in conjunction with Schneider Electric, began planning a microgrid solar Photovoltaic (PV) and Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project. The project will enhance reliability and resiliency of the port’s electricity supply, and reduce the port’s carbon footprint, while simultaneously strengthening local workforce development initiatives, and providing paid, on-the-job training to port workers. By powering the port’s electric terminal equipment and reducing its reliance on diesel generators and the grid, the project reduces the port’s GHG emissions footprint and criteria air pollutant emissions. The microgrid implementation will use union labor from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, with paid training hours to fill workers’ knowledge gaps in installing comparable microgrids. Moreover, the project enlists and provides educational experience to students from the University of California - Irvine, Advanced Power and Energy program in analyzing its performance data. Funding for the plan comes from a $5 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC), combined with $2.12 million in matched funds from the Port of Long Beach. The grant requires that the project demonstrate benefits to electricity customers in the local grid in the form of enhanced reliability, lower costs, or improved safety. An overriding objective of all CEC grant projects, is to “lead to technological advancement and breakthroughs to overcome barriers to achieving the state’s statutory energy goals.” As such, the project must document lessons learned in implementation and maintenance in promotion of replicability of similar projects, and the commercialization of microgrids more broadly.

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Baltimore Shines - Baltimore, Maryland

Baltimore Shines is a Baltimore City initiative that helps low-income residents access solar energy through either rooftop installations or community solar projects in Baltimore, Maryland. The program also expands workforce development opportunities in the solar installation industry. Baltimore Shines pilot projects were used to learn about barriers preventing solar installation in low-income communities and to inform the development of a sustainable financing model to increase access to solar energy. As the initial step to teaching energy affordability awareness, Baltimore Shines had community residents’ homes retrofitted by its close affiliate, Civic Works, which installed energy and water conservation equipment in homes. This program was not income restricted and is open to any Baltimore City homeowner or tenant residing in a house or apartment. Baltimore Shines also incorporated the development of workforce opportunities for underemployed and unemployed Baltimore residents through job-training and job placement. Additionally, Baltimore Shines leveraged a state funding program - the Maryland Community Solar Pilot program - that supported investments in renewable energy projects benefiting low- and moderate- income customers and encouraged private investment in the state’s solar industry with incentives for the investors. The program ultimately lowered bills, increased wages for some of the City’s low-income, under-employed or unemployed residents, and enhanced access to solar for many throughout the city. 

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New York City, ConEd Storm Hardening and Resiliency Collaborative

The Storm Hardening and Resiliency Joint Agreement demonstrates how community-based organizations can advocate for investments in grid resilience and ensure that investments are made without significant rate increases for low-income customers. Vulnerabilities and inequities in energy infrastructure were exposed following Superstorm Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, which caused significant impacts to New York City’s (NYC) energy system. To protect customers, the region, and energy systems from future natural disasters, Consolidated Edison, Inc. (ConEd) proposed a $1 billion capital investment for years 2013 through 2016 to mitigate impacts of future extreme weather, protect infrastructure, harden energy system components, and facilitate restoration. The utility organized a “Resiliency Collaborative” process to decide on how funds will be spent in their rate application filing. A collaboration of 12 parties including ConEd, NYC agency officials, and nonprofit and academic stakeholders resulted in a Joint Agreement between state Public Service Commission (PSC), ConEd, and other collaborative parties that froze electric rates for two years and required $1 billion in investment in storm hardening and resiliency. The multi-year rate plans ensure that delivery rates will not increase until after the rate plans have ended. The plan also offers rate mitigation for customers while assuring continued safe and reliable service. The agreement also provides for the expansion of the ConEd low-income discount programs to ConEd’s electric and gas businesses for the benefit of low income customers.

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Designing new models of energy distribution: Hunts Point Community Microgrid, New York City

The Hunts Point Microgrid Project is an initiative of the New York City Economic Development Corporation and the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency (ORR), designed to protect important citywide infrastructure during emergencies that threaten energy distribution and to address critical vulnerabilities for both community and industry. The project integrates energy technologies that minimize power disruption in times of extreme weather in an area that serves as a major food-supply hub located in the Bronx, New York City. Hunts Point was identified as a priority area for climate resilience initiatives after Hurricane Sandy, as the potential impacts of the storm exposed the importance and vulnerability of the food systems infrastructure in the region. The project studied the feasibility of a district cogeneration facility to provide electricity, steam, and refrigeration to local food markets, nearby businesses, and the residential community facilities in the area. In addition to its vulnerability to climate impacts, the Bronx has socioeconomically vulnerable residents - the average household income in the borough is 40% lower than the city average and 34% lower than the national average. The South Bronx, where Hunts Point is located, is 57.1% Hispanic and 39.8% Black. The South Bronx neighborhood is also home to a major wholesale food cooperative located at the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, as well as 12,300 residents and one of the City’s larger wastewater treatment plants.

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Hawaii Microgrid Tariff

Hawaii is the first state to begin a utility commission proceeding to create a tariff to pay microgrid owners and streamline the interconnection processes. The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission opened a docket and proceeding to “Investigate Establishment of a Microgrid Services Tariff” in response to the passage of Act 200, which directed the Public Utilities Commission to study the establishment of the potential tariff. The Act was passed after extreme weather and volcanic activity on Hawaii Island threatened to cut off several communities or make access extremely difficult. The Act acknowledges that Hawaii is more vulnerable than other states to disruptions in its energy systems due to extreme weather events, and notes that microgrid solutions could provide community-scale power on an emergency basis without connection to the island-wide grid. A microgrid tariff would allow for easier development of customer-sited, islandable systems. Hawaii has existing microgrids on several of its islands that are already helping to make the state’s electric grid more resilient and reliable.  In the wake of Kilauea’s recent eruptions on the island of Hawaii – where transmission lines and distribution equipment have been destroyed by lava – Hawaii Electric Light (HELCo) has also started planning a small microgrid to serve isolated communities and vacation areas threatened by lava encroaching on residential subdivisions.

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Buffalo, New York Medical Microgrid - NY Prize

Microgrid projects selected for funding through the NYSERDA NY Prize competition, including a project serving the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, demonstrate how states can fund microgrid pilot projects and evaluate the resilience benefits delivered by these types of projects. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus (BNMC) secured $1 million in funding from the New York Energy and Research Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) NY Prize to deploy a microgrid project to serve vital medical facilities in Buffalo, New York. The project covers nine health care, life science research, and education facilities including New York’s only freestanding pediatric health facility. The project also serves portions of the adjacent Fruit Belt low income residential neighborhood, which shares common electric infrastructure with the medical campus. BNMC’s proposal emphasized the importance of enabling the health and cancer research facilities to maintain 100 percent service quality during extended power interruptions. The proposal also stressed engaging with surrounding communities to identify priority investment areas, building on existing neighborhood assets by planning a multipurpose community center, advancing a collaborative workforce development strategy, and establishing a land bank program for example. The proposal used the Industrial Economics, Inc. (IEc) model to evaluate the costs and benefits of the microgrid project for critical services. The state of New York created the competition  to spur microgrid development in light of climate change impacts, and called for a variety for microgrid designs involving Combined Heat and Power (CHP), renewables, energy storage, alternative fuel/generation, and controllable loads. The Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus microgrid project was selected for funding as part of an initiative to upgrade and redevelop the campus and its surrounding neighborhoods. 

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