FEMA Seeks Microgrids as Biden Channels $3.5 Billion to Agency for Disaster Relief

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The Biden administration is dedicating a “historic” $3.5 billion to a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) disaster recovery program and the funds can be used to build microgrids.

FEMA

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As part of FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP), the funding is designated for hazard mitigation measures across the 59 major disaster declarations issued due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, FEMA said Aug. 5.

The money represents a 23% increase in the funding made available for declared disasters since the program’s inception, according to FEMA.

Under the program, states, tribes and territories that received a major disaster declaration in response to the COVID-19 pandemic will be eligible to receive 4% of their disaster costs to invest in mitigation projects that reduce risks from natural disasters, FEMA said.

“Through this funding, communities across the nation will have the critical resources needed to invest in adaptation and resilience, and take meaningful action to combat the effects of climate change,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas said.

HMGP funding can cover three-quarters of total project costs and states or communities pay the remainder.

FEMA said eligible projects include those that help utilities or other critical facilities adapt to future conditions and reduce risks, through microgrids, flood protection, and other infrastructure protection measures.

According to the agency, FEMA funding has been used on at least two major microgrids: the $6.3 million Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe microgrid in California and the $29.6 million Bronzeville microgrid project in Illinois.

The National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies praised the funding for HMGP.

“As disasters continue to devastate communities across the nation – from severe wildfires, to wind, to flooding events – we have to continue doing all we can to ensure our homes and businesses are protected in the face of extreme climate risk,” Jimi Grande, NAMIC’s senior vice president of government affairs, said Aug. 6.

Responding to climate change and more severe weather is a Biden administration priority.

Earlier this year, the administration doubled to $1 billion FEMA’s Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC) program, a grant program for adding infrastructure resiliency before disasters strike.

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FEMA pushes microgrids as solution for resiliency

FEMA is pushing microgrids as a way to improve infrastructure resiliency.

“With the ability to disconnect and operate independently, microgrid systems can provide for grid resilience, mitigate disturbances caused by natural disasters and allow for faster system response and recovery,” FEMA said in late June.

The agency outlined the eligibility requirements for microgrids that seek HMGP and BRIC funding.

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