Groundswell Selected for U.S. Department of Energy RACER Grant Funding for Development of Replicable Resilience Hub Model
WASHINGTON, DC / ACCESSWIRE / January 12, 2023 / Groundswell, a nonprofit that builds community power through equitable community solar projects and resilience hubs, announced its selection to receive a $1 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) to advance community energy resilience. Led by Groundswell, the project team will work with communities in Maryland to develop a replicable framework for resilience planning that goes beyond traditional energy metrics and uses resilience metrics informed by communities. This selection enables the statewide expansion of efforts already underway in Baltimore to establish Community Resiliency Hubs designed to mitigate the effects of power disruptions caused by extreme weather and other events.
Through Groundswell - in partnership with DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Ayika Solutions, the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA), and the Baltimore Office of Sustainability - the Resilient Communities Maryland project will develop an equitable, community-driven energy resilience framework. This framework will be replicated across the State of Maryland, supporting increased public safety and improving preparedness and recovery during hazardous events and extended grid outages.
"Community resilience hubs put people first," commented Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore. "We're proud to work alongside this exceptionally innovative team of resilience leaders to serve communities across Maryland with an approach that can work anywhere in the U.S."
These resilience hubs can serve as centralized, trusted community locations where community members can access reliable power for their essential devices, continue to receive information as emergency situations develop, store medications sensitive to temperature, and safely gather in the aftermath of an emergency or severe weather event to allow the community to recover safely and effectively. Groundswell's team is also examining how this model can be used to serve communities across the country with resilience hubs powered by solar-plus-storage.
"The practice and promotion of scientifically sound, community-specific, and socially relevant environmental information increase the scientific literacy of a community. For communities most impacted by climate change, the importance of community preferences and priorities in the defining and developing of measures and metrics of environmental (climate, energy, water, etc.) resiliency are critical components that should be included in any hyper-local and state resilience planning," said Dr. Erica Holloman Hill, the CEO and Chief Scientific Officer at Ayika Solutions.
"This effort is also an opportunity to combine community-defined resilience metrics with broader equity considerations, such as community wealth building opportunities, to effectively link the resilience hubs with lived experience during both outage and regular operating conditions," said Eric Lockhart, Group Manager at NREL.
"The RACER grant allows the Groundswell team to take the lessons learned from their Baltimore City experience and apply them to suburban landscapes within both Montgomery and the Eastern Shore Counties," said Dr. Mary Beth Tung, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. "Much of the work under this initiative will build on efforts Groundswell initiated via grants provided by the Maryland Energy Administration to assess opportunities for resilience hubs in the City of Baltimore and Montgomery County. This new initiative expands on the prior important work by furthering these efforts across the state including urban and rural communities."
"We are eager to see how Baltimore's nation-leading Community Resiliency Hub Program can inform the expansion of resiliency hubs across the State of Maryland and beyond," said Aubrey Germ, Climate Resilience Planner from the City of Baltimore's Office of Sustainability.
Groundswell was selected as a part of DOE's Renewables Advancing Community Energy Resilience (RACER) funding program, an effort to increase the resilience of energy systems and increase communities' preparedness to withstand and recover rapidly from disasters. Groundswell's Resilient Communities Maryland project is one of several projects that will develop energy resilience planning frameworks at the community level through robust multi-stakeholder participation and collaboration.
As part of this work, Groundswell plans to convene local officials, community leaders, and decision-makers from utility providers in a series of open tables next year. These conversations will focus on individual community needs and the potential for program replicability to ensure future resilience hubs will serve high-priority community needs sustainably for years to come.
Groundswell is a 501c3 nonprofit that builds community power through equitable community solar projects and resilience hubs, clean energy programs that reduce energy burdens, and pioneering research initiatives that help light the way to clean energy futures for all. Groundswell leads clean energy programs and projects in five states including the District of Columbia, serving more than 5,500 income-qualified customers with more than $2.75 million per year in clean energy savings. Learn more at Groundswell.org.
AYIKA SOLUTIONS INC (ASI) is a small African American, woman-owned, environmental consulting firm that specializes in the development and implementation of practical, innovative, and community-driven and community-led environmental solutions. Since 2016, ASI has been forging new paths towards sustainable resiliency together with community, local/state/national governmental agencies, and local/regional/national environmental and climate justice organizations and networks. With 25+ years of professional experience in environmental science and consulting, Dr. Holloman-Hill and her team are passionate about grassroots advocacy and the practice/promotion of scientific literacy as a liberation tool for shifting and supporting equitable and just power.
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