The United States Department of Energy has chosen 14 host communities for technical assistance, in a bid to discover how energy storage can increase resilience and reduce costs in underserved communities.
“More than 65% of low-income households across the U.S. face a high energy burden, and more than 30% of all households have experienced energy insecurity,” Utility Dive reports, citing DOE figures. And “storage facilities have the ability to address many of these challenges,” for example, by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants in fossil-fuelled peaker plants that are often built in or near vulnerable communities and populations.
DOE’s Energy Storage for Social Equity (ES4SE) initiative received more than 60 applications for the 14 available program slots, the news story states.
“From a system-wide perspective, if energy storage—depending on when it’s deployed—can offset the need for fossil fuel generators, it could reduce the need to run those facilities or retire them altogether,” Jin Noh, policy director of the California Energy Storage Alliance, told Utility Dive.
Storage projects attached to public infrastructure like emergency shelters, water plants, and fire stations can also help communities cope with extreme weather and other climate impacts.
“In the New York City area after Superstorm Sandy, an awful lot of diesel generators didn’t operate,” said Mike Jacobs, senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “An awfully large number of diesel generator owners had contracted for fuel delivered from the same fuel company, who didn’t ever anticipate serving all of them in the same two or three-day period.”
So “how do you actually use your emergency back-up generator when it’s an emergency is a really good starting point” for discussion and system planning, he said.