Massachusetts appears to be on an energy innovation roll this month, today with news that it will offer $14 million in energy resiliency grants for critical care facilities.
The announcement by the Baker-Polito administration comes less than a week after the state said it plans to seek applications for at least $10 million in energy storage grants in the fall.
The energy resiliency money will fund microgrids and similar technologies at medical facilities where electric reliability is crucial. Both state and private medical facilities will be eligible for the funds, which will cover feasibility studies and project implementation.
The state Department of Energy Resources (DOER) plans to post application information here in the coming weeks.
“Resiliency grants to facilities that provide critical care services will help make Massachusetts a safer place during severe weather events,” said Governor Charlie Baker, in a news release. “These grants will aid efforts to build a more resilient grid and continue to advance our commitment to employing a comprehensive approach to combatting the effects of climate change.”
The critical facility grants mark the third round of funding from the state’s $40 million pool of money for community resiliency. Massachusetts released $26 million in two earlier funding rounds, which resulted in a range of projects. They include a microgrid in Northampton that integrates renewables and solar-plus-storage installations at four community centers in Boston.
The resiliency projects are meant to help avert disruption in community services when power outages occur due to severe weather.
“The goal of this program is to help critical facilities that support and strengthen our communities to keep the lights on and keep servicing and caring for our citizen’s regardless of the current weather conditions,” said Matthew Beaton, secretary of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.
Hospitals already are one of the top markets served by microgrids. In its third quarter update, GTM Research found that “the largest portion of near-term growth will continue to come from military and institutional microgrids at critical or community facilities including hospitals, schools, ports, wastewater treatment plants and transit systems.”
Hospital use of microgrids goes hand-in-hand with the sectors reliance on combined heat and power — which remains the generation source of choice within microgrids, according to GTM’s August report, “U.S. Microgrids 2016: Market Drivers, Analysis and Forecast.”
State to make predictive analytics available
As part of the energy resiliency grant program, the DOER will develop a community climate and resiliency online interactive tool. Available to city and state agencies, the tool will use predictive analytics to examine community resilience metrics, capabilities and priorities and help identify funding priorities based on climate vulnerabilities.
“The innovative online community resiliency tool and platform being developed by this grant program will give our municipal partners, who are on the front lines of responding to emergencies, the tools they need to understand their community vulnerabilities and be better prepared for all eventualities.” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.
The administration announced the new grants at Soldiers’ Home in Holyoke, a state facility for Massachusetts’ veterans, where a study will be launched on the viability of an on-site resiliency project.
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