Need Power Resilience? Make investments Domestically In Neighborhood Photo voltaic, Rooftop Photo voltaic, Warmth Pumps, EVs

Because the cleanup efforts following Hurricane Ian begin, the US is as soon as once more confronted with an all-too-familiar scenario. Warming world temperatures have led to a sharp enhance within the variety of billion-dollar disasters in the US — together with stronger hurricanes, extra pronounced heatwaves and wildfires, and extreme winter storms. In these disasters, native residents (notably low-income and BIPOC communities) are left stranded with out entry to electrical energy, usually with tragic penalties.

It doesn’t need to be like this.

Whereas record-breaking storm surges and 100 mph winds battered the Florida shoreline and knocked out energy for 90 % of Charlotte County, Babcock Ranch residents weathered the storm with power provided from native photo voltaic panels, battery storage, and buried energy traces. Babcock Ranch additionally ready its neighborhood for flooding by leveraging native plant species to manage stormwater runoff — these similar crops additionally present energy-saving cooling all year long.

Thankfully for different US communities, the resiliency created in Babcock Ranch is feasible throughout the nation. Communities trying to construct resilience within the face of worsening local weather disasters will quickly have a once-in-a-generation alternative to raised put together themselves for future catastrophes by leveraging funding and incentives offered by the Inflation Discount Act (IRA) and the Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act (IIJA). And since the necessity for funding in native power infrastructure is especially acute in deprived communities that endure essentially the most throughout excessive climate, most of the new incentives and applications offered by the IRA and IIJA will likely be designed to notably profit these teams consistent with the Justice40 Initiative.

The time is now for native governments, community-based organizations, and utilities to leverage new federal funding and quickly scale native power infrastructure — together with nature-based options — that advance native resilience, fairness, and sustainability objectives.

Accelerating Uptake of Rooftop Photo voltaic, Warmth Pumps, and EVs

Native communities can leverage established and rising applications to speed up residential and business adoption of important distributed power assets (DERs). For instance, “Solarize Campaigns” are already getting used to allow rooftop photo voltaic adoption, and these might be tailor-made to help photo voltaic+storage programs in addition to prioritize lower-income communities. Native governments may also undertake SolarAPP+ to streamline photo voltaic and storage allowing processes.

Moreover, DERs akin to warmth pumps and EVs can improve native resilience. Warmth pumps can present heating or cooling extra effectively than older programs — akin to resistance warmth — thereby lowering calls for on the native grid or microgrids and offering a important complement to backup energy programs. RMI has partnered with 16 native governments and community-based organizations to scale residential warmth pump adoption by leveraging IRA incentives and doing neighborhood outreach through native companions and contractor engagement. New, comparable applications focusing on EV adoption may speed up particular person or fleet adoption of automobiles just like the Ford F-150 Lightning, which might present backup energy for as much as 10 days.

There are a number of potential sources of funding and incentives for a lot of these initiatives.

  • Rooftop photo voltaic and battery campaigns can leverage the newly revitalized Funding Tax Credit score, or ITC, which might now cowl 30 % of photo voltaic+storage or stand-alone storage mission prices.
  • Warmth pump campaigns and applications will have the ability to leverage the Excessive Effectivity Electrical Residence Rebate Program, which might cowl 50 to 100% of the price of warmth pumps for low- and moderate-income households. For different revenue brackets, the Residential Power Effectivity Tax Credit score will cowl as much as 30 % of warmth pumps and warmth pump water heater prices.
  • For EVs, residents, companies and native governments will have the ability to benefit from the IRA’s new clear automobile tax credit. Importantly, these applications now present incentives for used EVs, which might help adoption by lower-income households. And the brand new business clear automobile incentives enable for “direct pay,” which is able to let native governments additionally profit from federal tax incentives.

Implementing Neighborhood DER Initiatives to Additional Bolster Neighborhoods

Some communities could want to give attention to bigger tasks that may help complete neighborhoods, akin to Resiliency Hubs — renewably powered neighborhood hubs that act as emergency shelters. The Metropolis of Baltimore is deploying 17 such hubs, 7 of which is able to quickly have solar energy and battery storage. Communities may additional construct on this idea by growing native microgrids that may “island” from the grid throughout blackouts or, as Ann Arbor is contemplating, function totally independently from the grid year-round.

In different instances, communities could select to help the event of larger-scale renewable power tasks. For instance, the Metropolis of Houston has partnered carefully with local people teams to transform an previous landfill right into a 52 MW photo voltaic facility that may instantly profit native residents, and RMI is launching a mission to speed up neighborhood “brightfields.” Furthermore, community-scale renewable installations might be strategically deployed in order to maximise native worth streams and advance community-wide sustainability and fairness objectives.

Many of those tasks will mechanically profit from the renewed ITC offered by the IRA, in addition to extra incentives for tasks designed to profit low-income communities. Moreover, the IIJA created a number of applications to help native tasks that construct resilience in communities, together with the “Program Upgrading Our Electrical Grid and Making certain Reliability and Resiliency” and the “Stopping Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electrical Grid Grants.” For extra info on potential sources of grant funding, see RMI’s Federal Funding Alternatives for Native Decarbonization (FFOLD) database.

Decreasing Power Wants by Leveraging City Nature

City forests and nature usually are not at all times thought of power and resilience assets, however they need to be. For starters, these pure programs can present important stormwater administration to mitigate pricey flood harm that may devastate communities. One in all Babcock Ranch’s secrets and techniques in efficiently weathering Hurricane Ian was its domestically tailored native species. The neighborhood’s native crops, bioswales, and lakes, together with cautious city planning, helped to cut back runoff and channel it to assist shield homes from flooding.

Moreover, these native species are themselves a type of native power assets in that they’ll present vital power financial savings. For instance, one of many basic drivers of power use in lots of cities across the globe is cooling. City forests and parks might be 12°F cooler than treeless neighborhoods, and a road lined with timber might be over 5°F cooler than one with out. City canopies are due to this fact a important — and cost-effective — technique for addressing the city warmth island impact, particularly as warmth waves grow to be extra widespread, frequent, and harmful. Nature-based cooling can also be notably helpful for lower-income teams who could not have the ability to afford air con and infrequently rely extra closely on lively transportation (strolling and biking) or mass transit that requires ready outdoors.

New funding assets might help communities replicate a lot of these tasks. For instance, whereas the IRA units apart $1.5 billion for the City and Neighborhood Forestry Program, native teams may additionally leverage the IIJA’s “Environmental and Local weather Justice Block Grants” or the “Neighborhood Entry and Fairness Grant Program” to totally capitalize on the potential of pure programs to boost resilience and sustainability.

Subsequent Steps for Communities

Communities throughout the globe are wrestling with what usually appear to be competing priorities of financial development, sustainable operations, resilience, and supporting deprived teams. Whereas native power infrastructure usually can’t meet communities’ whole annual power wants, native tasks are uniquely positioned to boost resilience whereas additionally advancing progress on these different objectives. Specifically, power investments might be designed to create jobs and coaching applications; scale back reliance on fossil fuels; and (if correctly coordinated with community-based organizations) present security and enhanced consolation to deprived teams. Furthermore, native stakeholders have a spread of compelling alternatives, from applications that speed up residential adoption of unpolluted applied sciences, to large-scale tasks to energy entire neighborhoods, to nature-based options.

Whereas the trail forward should still appear daunting, local people leaders don’t have to go it alone. A major community of help is rising to allow collaboration inside and throughout communities, such because the Native Infrastructure Hub, the Metropolis Renewables Accelerator’s FFOLD software, and RMI’s community-focused programming.

Excessive climate is simply going to grow to be extra frequent and frequent. However with the correct planning, federal incentives, and help, communities can discover compelling methods to adapt and thrive.

By Stephen Abbott, Julia Meisel

© 2022 Rocky Mountain Institute. Printed with permission. Initially posted on RMI Outlet.

Featured Neighborhood Photo voltaic+ picture courtesy of RMI.


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