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Maryland paves the way for a resilient future with innovative new energy pilot

By Brandon Bowser, Energy Program Manager

General Electric display at 1964 World’s Fair photo credit The New York Public Library Digital Collection

The new, highly-competitive Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) Resilient Maryland pilot program received 25 proposals, highlighting the interest in coupling resiliency and clean energy from governments, businesses, critical facilities and others. We received many quality submissions and selected 14 projects to advance. 

“Maryland’s clean energy future needs to move forward and Resilient Maryland encourages this progress by providing vital funding to kick-start customized projects,” said Governor Larry Hogan. “Our push for clean energy ensures a more environmentally sustainable, more resilient and more prosperous Maryland.” 

A total of $1.05 million dollars in funding will be provided to Maryland businesses, nonprofit organizations, local governments, essential infrastructure, and vulnerable populations that will bring lasting benefit to our state. The initial cost hurdle imposed by an energy management project’s planning and design phase is often the pivotal point on whether or not it moves forward. An organization’s decision makers as well as external capital providers need proof of concept through shovel-ready project designs to contribute their support. Many entities do not have enough free time and capital available to address this issue, which is where Resilient Maryland steps in to help. Funds are exclusively provided to help offset these preliminary costs.

Resilient Maryland was designed to enhance a number of MEA’s portfolio of strategic programs including combined heat and power, solar, and clean energy, enabling MEA to leverage funds across its portfolio of programs. In light of the impacts the Maryland community is experiencing due to the global pandemic MEA funded the program to the fullest extent possible, recognizing how the adoption of distributed energy resources that the program accelerates will help build resilience to future pandemics, drive job creation, and improve affordability during recovery. MEA continues to optimize deployment of the Strategic Energy Investment Fund (SEIF) in a manner that both addresses immediate need throughout the current crisis and invests in the lasting benefits afforded by incented projects to all Marylanders. Providing State investment to these projects will provide MEA with replicable, scalable, and cost-effective solutions that will serve as models for wide-scale adoption. The demand received further underscores the importance of state investment in innovation for a cleaner, more efficient, and resilient energy future.

Energy resiliency has taken center stage in the face of increasing global threats to grid integrity. Severe storm systems cause widespread damage that cut off power to populations for extended periods of time, threatening Marylanders’ safety and livelihood. Global pandemics like the current COVID-19 crisis demand that essential infrastructure facilities, like hospitals and nursing homes, have access to the electricity and thermal energy needed to power operations and keep their patients safely on paths to treatment and recovery. Implementing community resiliency hubs that are both easy to locate and access in crisis situations provide Maryland’s most vulnerable with access to safe, comfortable environments that provide electricity for essential medical equipment and additional resources in coordination with emergency services.

Grantees will use Resilient Maryland funds to complete detailed feasibility analyses, engineering, planning, and designs of distributed energy systems that will serve their facilities, campuses, and local communities. This will bring microgrids, advanced combined heat and power (CHP) systems, and resiliency hubs through the critical planning phase to the shovel-ready, proven concept status necessary to secure critical buy-in from project decision makers and capital providers. The proposed solutions are highly innovative; Grantees consider solar PV systems, battery storage, thermal storage, fuel cells, strategic integration of expanded natural gas services for highly-efficient CHP systems, advanced controls systems, among many others.

Selected projects are spread wide across Western and Central Maryland and Baltimore City. Low-to-moderate income communities, critical infrastructure facilities, universities, agricultural entities, businesses, federal facilities, state facilities, local governments, and essential services will all receive access to capital needed to help bring their projects to life. MEA has identified commonalities across its awarded projects: maximizing food security to regional populations, safeguarding organizational operations from prolonged grid outages, improving organizational sustainability and bolstering the livelihood of vulnerable populations through energy resilience solutions.

MEA congratulates its FY20 grantees and looks forward to the partnership to come.