Super storm Sandy highlighted the need for the state's critical facilities to become more energy-resilient during widespread power outages. As a result, there's now a place for public entities, such as water, waste water treatment plants and hospitals, to get financial help for upgrades necessary to continue operating during emergencies.

(Arman Davtyan, ThinkStock)

The New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank is the first of its kind in the nation to focus on resilience and was made possible with $200 million in federal disaster recovery funds. It's a collaboration between the New Jersey Economic Development Agency and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. It's also part of the Christie Administration's ongoing efforts to minimize the potential for future outages and increase energy resiliency.

The ERB is focusing on water and waste water treatment plants because of the resilience that can be gained, according to Executive Director Mitch Carpen.

"Most of them had direct impact by the storm, but most of the damage came from indirect impact. They lost power, weren't able to treat waste water properly, and had to pump it into the waterways untreated to the great detriment to society and the water ways and the environment around it," Carpen said.

Carpen said the ERB wants rebuilding of the infrastructure to happen in a very resilient way.

"This means a couple of different things. One: certainly, innovative technology which will help improve efficiency and sustainability of the infrastructure; Two: it has to be able to cut off from the grid when it goes down, and island to feed a critical load to keep treating waste water or patients in a hospital or a shelter." He added, "So, it has to be islandable, which is a very key requirement for being resilient and reliable."

New Jersey has one of the largest install bases in Solar Technology, according to Carpen.

"However, none of it worked during the storm. They were missing the smart-switching gear necessary to Island, or cut off from the grid to feed a critical load," he said.

The ERB is helping finance public entities that already have a significant amount of solar install with the smart-switching technology and the storage technology to get them to be resilient, Carpen said.

Money provided by the ERB is a combination of low-cost financing and a grant. Public facilities wishing to apply for financing can go to www.njerb.com.

ERB Executive Director

By: Dianne DeOliveira

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