Local Priorities Drive Energy Transitions in Remote, Coastal, & Island Communities

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Applications Open for Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project, Which Connects Decision Makers With Energy Insights

Remote, coastal, and island communities across the country face similar energy resilience challenges—from high energy costs and aging infrastructure to outages from extreme weather events and climate change impacts—but each community’s values and priorities create a unique path toward energy resilience.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) helps these communities navigate options for sustainable and resilient energy systems, and applications are open through July 10 for new communities to join the program.

ETIPP communities receive up to two years of tailored technical assistance from researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and other national laboratories, along with support from regional partner organizations that understand energy challenges unique to their areas. Now entering its fourth year, ETIPP will for the first time offer direct funding to communities accepted to the program.

ETIPP has already partnered with 32 communities—including local governments, tribes, community-based organizations, and utilities—to create strategic energy plans, validate nuanced renewable energy projects, and leverage decision-making power to advance energy resilience goals. A spectrum of priorities is reflected in current ETIPP community projects, and often multiple priorities are targeted in a single project.

  • Economic impacts are a consideration for the community of Beaver Island in Michigan, which is exploring how renewable energy and energy efficiency transitions away from fossil fuels could influence the incomes and employment opportunities in its community.
  • Energy resilience is a focus for the Makah Tribe in Washington, which is assessing how to integrate renewable energy into its critical infrastructure relocation planning and how to communicate those options to community members and integrate their feedback into the plan.
  • Infrastructure is important to utilities like Tideland Electric Membership Corporation, which is analyzing the operational impacts of Ocracoke Island’s potential ferry electrification to help plan for strategic infrastructure investments in North Carolina. The Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña—a hydroelectric cooperative in Puerto Rico—is refining its intermunicipal microgrid plan to deliver energy across four remote, inland mountain communities.
  • Statutory deadlines are also a focus for ETIPP communities, like the neighboring towns of Aquinnah and Chilmark in Massachusetts, which are teaming up to hit a target of 100% renewable energy by 2040 using retrofits for municipal buildings, distributed energy resources, and microgrids.

But communities that do not yet have a solidified plan or affiliated targets are also benefitting from ETIPP’s energy planning support: McGrath, in landlocked central Alaska, is assessing the potential for renewable energy in the area, including hydrokinetic, wind, solar, and micro-nuclear resources.

Providing communities with robust and tailored information to help them identify viable options is the key driver of ETIPP’s structure. ETIPP connects communities with regional partner organizations that specialize in local energy transitions to help communities define an ETIPP project. Over the course of 12 to 24 months, communities collaborate with national laboratory researchers from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, NREL, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories to execute their projects using world-class modeling and analysis capabilities.

ETIPP is currently accepting applications through July 10. Prospective applicants must first contact an ETIPP regional partner or program manager to discuss their eligibility. ETIPP’s regional partners include the Island Institute, Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and Spark Northwest.

An ETIPP informational webinar will be hosted on April 24 for prospective applicants to learn more about the program, eligibility, and application process. Visit the ETIPP technical assistance page to find out more program details, register for the webinar, and apply.

ETIPP is managed by NREL and funded and supported by the U.S. Department of Energy through several of its Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) technology offices and programs. ETIPP is sponsored and led by EERE’s Integrated Strategies Office’s Energy Transitions Initiative and supported by DOE offices including the Building Technologies Office, Geothermal Technologies Office, Solar Energy Technologies Office, Vehicle Technologies Office, Water Power Technologies Office, and Wind Energy Technologies Office.

Courtesy of NREL. By Brooke Van Zandt

Featured photo of Hawaii by Kyle Field | CleanTechnica


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