Power Lines

Christie Administration Announces New Hazard Mitigation Initiative To Support Post-Sandy Energy Resilience

The Christie Administration announces the allocation of $13 million in federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding to provide grants to local governments statewide to support energy resilience at critical lifeline and life safety facilities.  This initiative builds upon the Administration’s efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to enhance energy resilience at critical infrastructure throughout New Jersey.

Superstorm Sandy highlighted energy vulnerabilities in this region and, notably, the State received more requests for energy projects under HMGP than any other mitigation measure. As a result, the State previously established the $25 million HMGP Energy Allocation Initiative to support back-up power and alternative energy solutions for local governments to enhance energy resilience. Due to the overwhelming demand for this program and the availability of additional HMGP funding, the State is now targeting an additional $13 million in HMGP funds to support the new “Lifeline / Life Safety Program” to fund additional local energy projects at critical facilities.

The two programs are expected to fund 337 county and municipal energy resilience projects statewide. These grants are intended to fund alternative forms of energy technology at qualifying facilities throughout the State, including life safety facilities like police and fire stations, shelters, emergency operations centers, and lifeline facilities like water supply and wastewater treatment plants – many of which showed vulnerabilities exploited by Sandy.

Grant allocations can be used to support a variety of alternative energy solutions, such as microgrids, solar power with battery back-up, and natural gas-powered emergency generators –technologies that will allow critical facilities to operate even when the power grid fails.

In order to effectively apply limited funding and ensure a fair distribution to as many programs as possible across the state, grants have been  capped for both the Lifeline / Life Safety Program and the Energy Allocation Initiative.  Under the Energy Allocation Initiative, eligible jurisdictions with a population of 25,000 or less will receive a maximum grant of$100,000. Eligible jurisdictions with more than 25,000 residents will receive a maximum grant of $250,000. Eligible jurisdictions participating in the Lifeline / Life Safety Program will receive a maximum grant of $75,000.

The State announced the HMGP Energy Allocation Initiative in October 2013. The program resulted from months of studying the storm impacts to the State’s energy infrastructure by a cross-agency group of State agencies, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Response from local governments was overwhelming, with over $469 million in requests for an initial available funding pool of just $25 million.

Allocations under the HMGP Energy Allocation Initiative and the new Lifeline / Life Safety Program were determined by objective scoring criteria, which included: population size and density, millions of gallons per day of flow or population served for water and wastewater systems, participation in the National Flood Insurance Program and BPU’s Local Energy Audit program, criticality of infrastructure as determined by the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness state asset database, and FEMA Public Assistance data.

After the initial allocation notifications were announced in October, the State performed a comprehensive quality assurance and quality control review of all data points utilized in the scoring process in advance of submitting applications to FEMA for funding. All jurisdictions were advised of initial and revised allocation amounts determined on the program criteria and any corrections resulting from the final check and verification of data.  The State will continue to work with all eligible applicants to prepare applications to FEMA for funding. To view the complete list of eligible jurisdictions under both programs, visit: http://www.state.nj.us/njoem/index.html

Related Articles: