US government to support 12 remote, island communities in transition to clean energy – pv magazine International

Communities will get help with strengthening energy infrastructure, reducing outage risk, and improving their future energy and economic outlook.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced plans to work with 12 remote and island communities around the United States to help them move to clean power, lower energy costs, and improve resilience

Through the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP), DOE experts, national labs, and regional organizations will support projects in communities that often face high energy costs and vulnerable energy infrastructure due to their increased risk of natural disasters caused by climate change. ETIPP further supports the US government’s goal of ensuring an equitable transition to a carbon-pollution free future.

“As climate change intensifies, remote and island communities, which experience higher energy costs and may lack the financial resources and expertise to make their energy systems more resilient, are more at risk to extreme weather events,” said US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE will connect 12 more communities with our world-renowned National Labs to execute strategic and locally-tailored clean energy and resilience solutions, driving the nation’s equitable transition to a net-zero economy.”

Remote and island communities often lack the financial resources and the access to experts to plan a clean energy transition. The ETIPP will work with local community leaders, residents, and organizations to help identify what the energy challenges are, and then will provide assistance in establishing a strategy.

The 12 selected communities that were selected through a competitive process are:

  • Aquinnah and Chilmark, Massachusetts: The towns of Aquinnah and Chilmark on the island of Martha’s Vineyard will work together on technical assistance in three areas to help them achieve 100% renewable energy by 2040 with retrofits for municipal buildings, distributed energy resources, and microgrids . The project will help both towns identify suitable high-impact energy efficiency and renewable energy solutions to improve energy resilience and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Bainbridge Island, Washington: On Bainbridge Island, a commuter island to Seattle, ETIPP will assist in analyzing the feasibility of renewable energy options like solar and water power to move the city toward its goal of 100% renewable electricity by 2040. This project will help the island residents understand the benefits and challenges of energy resilience solutions such as community solar and residential-scale battery storage.
  • Beaver Island, Michigan: Beaver Island will use its assistance to identify opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects to improve energy security through local production and storage, while reducing the cost of energy and bolstering economic opportunities. This project will consider the income and employment impacts of transitioning away from fossil fuels, which have been a historical economic driver in the community.
  • Guam Power Authority, Guam: The Guam Power Authority (GPA) is seeking assistance with renewable energy resource integration, improved utility planning and energy security, and to establish a performance management system for its Clean Energy Master Plan. These efforts support GPA’s commitment to Guam’s ambitious renewable energy goals, which mandate 50% renewable generation by 2035 and 100% by 2045.
  • Hui o Hau’ula, Hawaii: Hui o Hau’ula, a community organization of Oahu, is coordinating the planning and development of a Community Resilience Hub, which will include the generation and storage of power for the surrounding Koolauloa District. To achieve this, Hui o Hau’ula is seeking assistance to assess energy needs and evaluate a portfolio of renewable energy technologies for the Resilience Hub. The project will develop technical guidance and documentation for storm and disaster energy resilience throughout Koolauloa.
  • Igiugig, Alaska: The Igiugig community is receiving assistance to analyze electricity distribution efficiency, energy conservation, and impacts to the grid from increased renewables. The project will work with the Tribal Council to also increase communication and community engagement for energy transition issues. Outcomes will help Igiugig move toward its goal of improving energy self-sufficiency by using local, renewable resources and its own workforce while minimizing environmental impact and maintaining its cultural identity.
  • Makah Tribe, Neah Bay, Washington: ETIPP assistance to the Makah Tribe will go toward assessing the opportunities and challenges associated with integrating renewable energy into critical infrastructure relocation planning and increasing their ability to generate their own power. The project will be focused on deeper community engagement by helping Makah Tribe staff communicate renewable energy options to community members and integrate their priorities, perspective, and knowledge into its planning.
  • McGrath, Alaska: With ETIPP technical assistance, McGrath (in landlocked central Alaska) aims to increase its energy independence and resilience while reducing the cost of energy. This project will assess the potential for renewable energy in the area, including hydrokinetic, wind, solar, green hydrogen, and micro-nuclear resources. This project will also aim to leverage local economic opportunities through capacity-building efforts within the community.
  • Microgrid of the Mountain, Puerto Rico: A hydroelectric cooperative in Puerto Rico will employ ETIPP assistance to refine its intermunicipal microgrid plan, and develop and design specifications for batteries, distribution, and other improvements. The project will also support the cooperative’s technical review data related to implementation of the new system. The project will help the cooperative deliver affordable, resilient energy for residents across four remote, inland mountain communities.
  • Mount Desert Island, Maine: Mount Desert Island’s goal for its technical assistance is understanding optimal approaches to transition its grid to clean energy while increasing energy resilience and community capacity. The project will assess opportunities for renewable energy integration, energy storage and efficiency, and the viability of a microgrid to make the island resilient during extreme weather events. Results from this project will support future decarbonization plans for the area.
  • Nikolski and St. George, Alaska: In Nikolski, Alaska (on Unmak Island in the West Aleutian Islands) and in St. George, Alaska George, Alaska (an island a few hundred miles north), assistance will go toward assessing the condition of existing wind turbines and plans to reconfigure them with a new mix of renewable energy resources. In addition to helping reduce each community’s reliance on costly imported diesel, this project will train local staff in equipment maintenance and assess the viability of battery storage.
  • University of Hawaii, Hawaii: The University of Hawaii’s project plans include analyzing the potential for geothermal cooling in buildings across its 10 campuses. The project will model shallow geologic conditions and building heating and cooling loads at each campus to recommend geothermal technologies, materials, and design approaches that improve energy efficiency and significantly increase sustainability across campus communities. Outcomes will include increased capacity for geothermal energy analysis at the University and opportunities to apply project results in similar environments.

“Clean energy availability is one of the keys to unlocking a future of renewable, reliable, and affordable power,” said US Senators Susan Collins and Angus King (ME) in a joint statement. “As home to one of the crown jewels of America’s National Park System, Mount Desert Island has long been a model for environmental stewardship and has made significant strides to preserve Acadia’s natural wonders. We welcome this investment, which will help the community accelerate its plans to increase the resiliency of the local grid and transition to a clean energy future.”

Six regional organizations – Alaska Center for Energy and Power, Coastal Studies Institute, Hawaii Natural Energy Institute, Island Institute, Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and Spark Northwest – will help the selected communities prioritize their energy resilience needs and communicate results throughout their projects. Experts from DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories will work with the communities to conduct technical activities that help decision makers plan resilient upgrades to their energy systems.

Started in 2021, ETIPP’s first participants were composed of 11 communities from Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and North Carolina. Read about all ETIPP community projects, which are funded by the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

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