green energy

EDA Advances Two Projects for Energy Resilience Bank Funding

The board of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (EDA) awarded preliminary approval for the funding of two projects under the Energy Resilience Bank (ERB). One project is a combined heat and power (CHP) system at Cooper University Hospital (CUH) and the other is a resiliency project at the Bergen County Utilities Authority (BCUA), which provides wastewater treatment and solid waste management for more than 500,000 people.

Created by the Christie Administration in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, the ERB is the first public infrastructure bank in the nation to focus on energy resilience. Administered by the EDA, the ERB is utilizing $200 million from New Jersey’s second Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation to support the development of distributed energy resources (DER) at critical facilities throughout the state that will enable them to remain operational during future outages.

The intent of the ERB is to finance the installation or upgrading of commercially available and cost effective resilient energy technologies at critical facilities, with a focus on effective DER technologies, including CHP and fuel cells, which are designed to start up and function in “island” mode, disconnected and isolated from the grid during a power outage or other event.  As an added benefit, these technologies typically provide cleaner and more efficient power than more traditional forms of electricity generation.

“It is essential that New Jersey’s communities and residents have access to hospitals and clean water through any emergency,” EDA Chief Executive Officer Melissa Orsen said. “When complete, the projects approved today will enable these facilities to continue operating independently from the electrical grid and providing necessary community services and benefits in the event of future storms, disasters, or other emergency situations.”

ERB applicants must be eligible entities and must demonstrate that they were either directly or indirectly impacted by Superstorm Sandy or directly impacted by another qualifying disaster. Priority, as established through the ERB scoring system, is placed on projects which serve low and moderate income communities. Financing options available through the ERB consist of grants and loans to address unmet funding needs.

CUH, formally known as Cooper University Health Care Systems, is a not-for-profit, acute care hospital located in downtown Camden that serves more than 500,000 patients a year. A regional Level One Trauma Center for the southern seven counties of New Jersey, CUH suffered direct physical damage and a substantial business interruption loss from Superstorm Sandy.

The board action will allow the CUH project to advance to the next phase of the ERB program review. As authorized, $28.2 million of ERB funds will be reserved for the project, approximately $19.5 million as a grant and $8.7 million as a low-interest loan. An additional $2 million will be provided in the form of a loan from the Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) Hospital Efficiency Program, which will cover the gap between the ERB funding and the project’s total estimated cost of $30.2 million.

Consistent with ERB and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) CDBG-DR program requirements, CUH will develop a new CHP on its hospital campus in Camden. The project will include a 4.4 Megawatt recuperated combustion turbine generator that will be interconnected within the hospital campus, which includes the main hospital, the MD Anderson Cancer Center, 3 Cooper Plaza, the Education and Research Building, and two adjacent parking garages.

The BCUA is responsible for wastewater treatment and solid waste management services for Bergen County municipalities. The BCUA’s two wastewater treatment facilities process 83 million gallons of wastewater per day. The Little Ferry water pollution control facility (WPCF) collection system consists of approximately 90 miles of sewer interceptor lines and eight pumping stations serving all or part of 46 municipalities and 20 private customers in Bergen County, for a total wastewater service population of 536,000. BCUA suffered millions of dollars of physical storm damage and flooding at the treatment facility caused a loss to system functionality that resulted in an inefficient process for maintaining the sanitization of the water supply for one of New Jersey’s most densely populated counties.

The action taken at the board meeting will allow the BCUA project to advance to the next phase of the ERB program review. As authorized, $26.99 million of ERB funds will be reserved for the project, approximately $25 million as a grant and $1.9 million as a low-interest loan.

Consistent with ERB and HUD’s CDBG-DR program requirements, BCUA will implement a resiliency project at the Little Ferry WPCF site that entails three components to help enable BCUA to remain operational in the event of future storms, disasters, or emergency situations. First, BCUA is going to retrofit its two existing CHP cogeneration units with black start and islanding capabilities. BCUA will also raise its substations to protect its power assets from flooding and to avoid cascading impacts to the entire Little Ferry plant that could be caused by flooding of the substations. Substation assets that can be relocated above the proposed mitigation design flood elevation will be replaced and raised, as appropriate. Finally, BCUA will purchase a 175,000-cubic-foot biogas storage tank that will stabilize the fluctuation in biogas supply and demand, and provide BCUA with the capability to augment biogas feeding the cogeneration units during power outages, to make the system more resilient.

The CUH and BCUA projects will now proceed to the NJ Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) environmental review process.  This authorization to proceed allows these entities to make the necessary financial commitments to finalize engineering and design of the projects, with the understanding that any material changes to the projects’ scope or budget will be brought back to the Board for reconsideration.

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