Baker-Polito Administration Announces Funding to Ensure Climate Resilient Facilities

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Robert Fitzpatrick
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Sep 17, 2020 –

BOSTON – The Baker-Polito Administration today announced $821,552 in awards to analyze the costs and systems designs needed to create resilient facilities throughout Massachusetts in order to reduce economic losses from major power outage events, lower services interruption time for utility customers, and provide a replicable pathway for customers to assist utilities in outage recovery events. The grants were announced by state and local officials at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston as part of the Baker-Polito Administration’s celebration of Climate Week in the Commonwealth.

“Climate change is accelerating severe weather events, and our Administration is working to modernize our electrical grid and ensure that critical facilities have the tools they need to ride through storms and major power outages,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “The projects receiving funding will provide needed resilience for some of our most vulnerable populations, and provide a framework for other communities to begin planning for this crucial resiliency process.” 

“As we prepare for the impacts of climate change, it’s encouraging to see vulnerable communities take the initiative to become more resilient,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito.  “It is crucial that critical facilities like hospitals are best positioned for the impacts of climate change, and we commend the communities for taking the lead in pursuing these important projects.”

The program will aid communities in identifying and pursuing specific investment plans that will enable critical loads to “ride through” interruptions in grid service. Funding through the Clean Energy and Resiliency (CLEAR) program will advance first-stage system designs for six communities. Additionally, it will support the development of a toolkit which will provide a guide for all Massachusetts communities seeking to become more resilient, as well as a certification scheme, so that resilient systems can be fully utilized during major events and grid disturbances.

“Working with communities that have already participated in our Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program, the community resiliency design efforts supported by these grants will foster public-private partnerships, protect vulnerable populations, and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides.  “In addition to the benefits these projects offer, they will provide a roadmap that will empower buildings and communities across the Commonwealth to evaluate their own resiliency needs and clean energy resources.”

MassCEC has awarded funding to three consultants with substantial expertise that will work with communities to analyze the cost and system design for resilient facilities in Boston, Framingham, Cohasset, and West Tisbury.

The projects supported by this funding include:

GE Energy Consulting – Cohasset DPW Station & Elm Street - $140,000 – GE Energy Consulting will work with the Town of Cohasset on two projects located at the DPW Transfer Station and Elm Street. The town is a small coastal community that experiences at least one outage per year. Cohasset’s DPW Transfer Station is the department responsible for town-wide hazard management and resiliency by providing critical services. The proposed services will also assess EV charging capabilities to enable the electrification of the town’s DPW fleet. Cohasset’s site location includes a police station, fire station, Harborview, and a 64-unit housing for the elderly and persons with disabilities.”

GE Energy Consulting – Resiliency Toolkit - $80,000 – GE Energy Consulting will develop a Resiliency Toolkit that will be available to communities across the Commonwealth to reduce the upfront cost burden associated with design of resilient asset investment plans. The toolkit will provide communities with tools to identify their critical loads and perform high-level resource screening independently, helping to identify and what data is relevant for communities to determine their resiliency needs. The toolkit will also include creation of a template or walkthrough for communities to find their necessary data from utility websites or billing platforms, as well as a guide to consideration of critical loads and the resources needed to support such loads through outages of different durations.

The RAND Corporation – West Tisbury - $73,429 – RAND will work with the Town of West Tisbury. As an island community, West Tisbury is vulnerable to extreme weather events and the prolonged power outages that they bring. Residents of the Vineyard cannot easily evacuate during severe weather events and must shelter in place making it essential that the town has access to adequate services in times of emergency. Upon identifying possible risks, their most immediate focus is making the town’s buildings more resilient by adopting solar plus storage. Additionally, the island towns have a resolution of shifting to 100% Renewable Energy by 2040.”

The RAND Corporation – Brigham and Women’s Hospital - $73,429 – RAND will work with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Brigham and Women’s Hospital is essential to address the limited redundancy and resiliency available to Primary Health Care Resources especially given recent pandemic events. The public benefit would be two-fold by making a major healthcare institution more resilient and reliable and at the same time potentially reduce the locally generated pollution discharges.

The RAND Corporation – Resiliency Certification - $86,265 – The RAND Corporation will develop a Resiliency Certification that will ensure resilient systems can be fully utilized by first responders and storm restoration crews during major events and grid disturbances. The RAND Corporation will develop a method to certify a specific site as “resilient” to outages, and will address and define what critical loads a facility can support and how to specify island capability, among other assets.

Willdan – Framingham Winch Park & Concord Street - $150,000 – Willdan will work with the City of Framingham on two projects on Concord Street and Winch Park which meet the minority and income environmental justice criteria as defined by the EPA. The site locations serve as an educational hub, multifamily housing developments, fire station, and Street Pumping Station. One of the town's largest municipal facilities, Framingham High School qualifies as an emergency shelter.

Due to the impacts of COVID-19, MassCEC will release a second round of the CLEAR Community Expressions of Interest (EOI) in Fall 2020 for an additional three communities. 

GE Energy Consulting – TBD - $70,000  - GE Energy Consulting will work with a community to be selected following the release of an EOI in Fall 2020. 

The RAND Corporation – TBD - $73,429 – The RAND Corporation will work with a community to be selected following the release of an EOI in Fall 2020.

Willdan – TBD -  $75,000 - Willdan will work with a community to be selected following the release of an EOI in Fall 2020. 

“Building on the Community Microgrids program, this program is focused on assisting communities with resilient design studies while at the same time generating a toolkit and certification for all Massachusetts’ communities to reference in the future,” said MassCEC CEO Stephen Pike. “We are excited by both the awarded communities and the technical consultants who will be leading this effort and defining how Massachusetts buildings and communities should pursue resiliency efforts moving forward.”

Selected communities have all identified risks associated with natural calamities and enrolled in the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. The MVP program provides support to the cities and towns in Massachusetts to begin the process of planning for climate change resiliency and implementation priority projects. The state awards communities with funding complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans. Awarded communities are each paired with a technical consultant and will receive a MassCEC-funded energy resiliency needs analysis and system design study. MassCEC plans to release a second EOI in the fall that will award design studies to three additional communities under the CLEAR program.  

"Climate change poses a direct threat right here in our communities," said Massachusetts Senate President Karen Spilka (D-Ashland). "Limiting the impact of climate change has been one of my highest priorities – so I am thrilled that this vulnerable area of Framingham, including vital facilities such as Framingham High School, a fire station and multi-family housing, will be made more resilient with this targeted support.”

“Our nation-leading efforts to reduce dangerous emissions while also hardening our power grid that require focused efforts at all levels of government,” said State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester).  "The ongoing efforts of MassCEC and the Baker Administration to provide both funds and technical expertise are generating real results in communities across the state which will produce direct benefits for our environment, public health, the economy, and more for generations to come." 

“Promoting municipal resiliency and enhancing the reliability of our electrical grid are critical components of the Commonwealth’s response to climate change,” said House Minority Leader Bradley H. Jones, Jr. (R-North Reading). “This grant funding will facilitate the development of resiliency guidelines and a certification process that can be applied across Massachusetts to help all cities and towns address the challenges posed by climate change.”

“As we experience more frequent extreme weather events, it’s important that Massachusetts communities have the resources and capabilities to weather the storm,” said State Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr., House Chair of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy (D-Lowell). “I applaud the Baker-Polito Administration and MassCEC for issuing grants to encourage and support municipal projects to improve resiliency design, while also creating best practices that are available to all cities and towns of the Commonwealth.”

This year’s Climate Week marks four years since Governor Baker signed Executive Order 569 which lays out a comprehensive approach to further reduce greenhouse gas emissions, safeguard residents, municipalities and businesses from the impacts of climate change, and build a more resilient Commonwealth. More recently, the Administration has committed to investing $1 billion in climate resiliency by 2022 and achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.The Commonwealth is working to determine how best to achieve this emissions limit through its 2050 Roadmap, a nation-leading quantitative and qualitative planning effort that will chart multiple technical and policy pathways by which the Commonwealth can equitably and cost-effectively achieve net zero emissions by 2050, and will conclude with the publication of a long-range 2050 Roadmap report. Additionally, the Administration is working with municipalities throughout the Commonwealth to prepare for the impacts of climate change through the nation-leading Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program, which has now enrolled 89 percent of cities and towns.