This week the state of New Jersey took an innovative step in its continuing quest to remain Stronger than the Storm. The N.J. Board of Public Utilities (“BPU”) approved Docket No. QO14060626, a subrecipient agreement with the N.J. Economic Development Authority (“EDA”) to work jointly in the establishment and operation of the Energy Resilience Bank (“ERB”). The EDA and BPU also announced the hiring of staff to fill two ERB leadership positions. Utilizing $200 million through New Jersey’s second Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery allocation, the ERB will support the development of distributed energy resources at critical facilities throughout the state with a primary goal of improving resiliency.
Superstorm Sandy caused extensive damage to New Jersey’s energy infrastructure, disrupting delivery of electricity, petroleum and natural gas to consumers across the state, and leaving an estimated five million residents without electricity. Distributed energy resources, including combined heat and power (CHP), fuel cells (FC) and off-grid solar inverters with battery storage, allowed some critical facilities, such as hospitals, wastewater treatment plants and universities, to remain operational while the electric grid was down. The launch of the ERB will enable many more such facilities to remain operational during future outages. In addition to providing resilience, the benefits of distributed energy resources also include lower and stable energy costs, a cleaner environment through reduced emissions, and increased overall efficiency.
BPU President Dianne Solomon said, “Increasing energy resilience, whether through the Energy Resilience Bank, the BPU-approved resiliency improvement measures implemented by utility companies or NJ’s Clean Energy Program, will minimize the potential impacts of future widespread power outages due to major storms like Superstorm Sandy.”
Governor Christie’s press release says the Energy Resilience Bank is the first of its kind in the nation to focus on resilience.