Following the costly devastation of Superstorm Sandy, the eastern seaboard has spent the last two years picking up the pieces and developing new strategies for disaster preparedness.
The damage serves as a reminder of what natural disaster can do, and the United Nations’s warning that climate change could cost trillions is forcing some states to rethink their plan for infrastructure and energy.
New Jersey joins Connecticut and New York in creating a green bank “to fund projects that will help prevent a reoccurrence of the energy disruptions and build energy resilience.” Both Connecticut (which became the first state to create such a bank in 2011) and New York fund microgrid projects, but New Jersey’s green bank will focus strictly on energy resilience for infrastructure — including water and wastewater plants, hospitals, transit systems and schools, according to Governing.
In New York and New Jersey, 75 percent of power generation is located in flood plains, which have a 1 percent chance of flooding each year, according to United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). An energy resilience bank will support new efforts to create eco-friendly, clean sources of energy that will prove to be more reliable over time. The bank plans to dole out loans and grants to fund projects such as smart grid technology, microgrids and distributed generation, which produce electricity through a variety of smaller energy sources such as solar panels.
The state plans to use $200 million from its Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery allocation from HUD, according to Greg Reinart, director of communications for the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. To sustain the bank, the state hopes to attract private-sector financing to invest in new energy technologies and renewable energy.