Resiliency Hub Provides Safe Haven in Blackouts for Montgomery County Low and Moderate Income Residents
St. Jude Regional Catholic School, located in Rockville, has expanded their services to the community through vital energy upgrades to become a resiliency hub. A resiliency hub provides community support in the event of a blackout due to a weather emergency or natural disaster by powering key equipment with clean, resilient energy. St. Jude’s resiliency hub is the first to open under the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) Resiliency Hub Program which was designed to serve Maryland’s low-to-moderate income (LMI) residents and is funded via the Strategic Energy Investment Fund which MEA administers. SPH Solutions LLC received a grant award of $263,000.00 to support the energy enhancements at the school.
“Expanding relief options for residents impacted by a power grid outage is a paramount health and safety issue,” stated Mary Beth Tung, MEA Director. “Having a building in the community with sustained electrical power can ensure at-risk people are safe in overheated or freezing apartments, temperature sensitive medications are preserved, and communications are maintained.”
Surrounded by neighborhoods, there is a sizable LMI community nearby and approximately 15% of these residents have a median income of about $50,000 (data from City-Data.com based on 2000-2020 data). The resiliency hub has the ability to service about 3,000 residents who live easily within walking distance to the hub. Some residents may only use the hub for a short period of time, long enough to charge their cell phone. Other residents may utilize the hub for longer periods of time to run medical equipment if necessary.
The resiliency hub consists of a solar panel system of 335.35 kilowatt (kW) and a 260 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery storage system.This integrated system and advanced controllers enables the stored battery power to be used during a grid outage. The solar panels will refill the battery during daylight hours. This renewable energy system enables the hub to function off the grid, keeping residents safe and comfortable until power has been restored to the community. The hub provides heating and cooling, lighting, and power for small appliances such as cell phones or durable medical equipment, and as well as refrigeration for temperature sensitive medication.
“SPH Solutions is pleased to partner with St. Jude’s Regional Catholic School and the Maryland Energy Administration to provide the Rockville community with the first resiliency hub in the State of Maryland,” stated Jim Donlan, President SPH Solutions. “The Hub will provide a safe, secure, comfortable place for the local residents to come during sustained power outages in order to recharge their electronic devices. The hub runs solely on green energy; we hope that this project can inspire the community to make a conscious effort to look at the impact they have on the environment,” concluded Donlan.
St. Jude utilized a power purchase agreement for this project and is the resiliency hub site owner and operator, while the system installer, SPH Solutions, LLC, owns the system. MEA is preparing its full range of programs for FY22, including resources for resiliency hubs, For more information on this program, visit the MEA Resiliency Hub grant page for information.
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) advises the governor and general assembly on all energy matters, promoting affordable, reliable and cleaner energy. MEA develops and administers programs and policy to support and expand all sectors of the state’s economy while benefiting all Marylanders and implementing legislation. Please visit Energy.Maryland.gov and follow them on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter for more information.