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New Jersey Moves Forward with Distributed Energy Resource Plan

New Jersey state regulators approved a subrecipient agreement last week with the state Economic Development Authority (EDA) to work jointly in the establishment and operation of the New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank (ERB), which will support the development of distributed energy resources at critical facilities throughout the state through a $200 million allocation from the state’s second Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR).

“Increasing energy resilience, whether through the [ERB], the [state Board of Public Utilities (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,” Dianne Solomon, president of the BPU, said in the statement.

Noting that Sandy caused extensive damage to the state’s energy infrastructure, the BPU said that distributed energy resources, including combined heat and power, fuel cells and off-grid solar inverters with battery storage, allowed some critical facilities, including hospitals, to remain operational while the electric grid was down. Launching the ERB will allow more such facilities to remain operational during future outages.

The ERB will be focused on providing capital, both low interest loans and grants, to critical facilities that offer the greatest resilience benefits for the state, including water and wastewater treatment plants and hospitals, with subsequent funding directed towards other critical facilities, such as emergency response facilities, the BPU added.

According to the State’s Action Plan amendment for the second allocation of CDBG-DR funds, projects funded through the ERB may include the increased deployment of microgrids, distributed generation, smart grid technologies and energy storage. The bank can also fund site acquisition and preparation and other aspects of development to support the deployment of distributed generation or other energy technologies.

The ERB would support energy infrastructure projects that lack funding and support projects that incorporate energy technologies that are resilient in order to allow infrastructure to continue to operate even if the larger electrical grid fails. To the extent possible, the ERB would leverage limited federal dollars with state funding and private sector capital to maximize energy resilience at the most critical of facilities using microgrids, for instance. The plan also said that the bank will provide the resources New Jersey’s critical facilities need to invest in fuel cells, combined heat and power, solar with storage and other technology that will better prepare police and fire stations, among others, for future weather events.

“By pursuing resilient energy programs, New Jersey can realize more in-state generation of electricity – which will not only make the state more resilient, but will also make energy more affordable and reliable for critical facilities, and lead to the increased use of renewable technologies and a reduced dependency on diesel fuel,” the plan said.

According to the BPU, under the agreement, the BPU and EDA will collaborate to design the program parameters, including the technical, operational and financial conditions that applicants will need to meet to receive funding. Consistent with other jointly administered programs, the BPU added, the EDA will undertake a financial review and perform due diligence of applicants and projects that have successfully completed BPU’s technical review. It is anticipated that the EDA and BPU boards will be asked later this summer to approve the ERB guide to program funds, which will outline the parameters through which grants and loans will be provided to the initial group of critical facilities.

Mitch Carpen, who is returning to New Jersey from Singapore where he worked for the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd., as assistant general manager, head of credit portfolio risk and strategy, has been named the ERB’s executive director. Thomas Walker, who is currently employed with the BPU as the bureau chief of engineering services in the Division of Energy, has been named the ERB’s deputy director, the BPU added.

This article was originally published on TransmissionHub and was republished with permission.

Lead image: Anton Oparin via Shutterstock

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