On Jan. 2 Florida State Rep. Holly Raschein (R) introduced the “Energy Security and Disaster Resilience Pilot Program Bill” (HB 1133), a $10 million bill that would use energy storage and solar power to create a more resilient electric grid that can withstand natural disasters. The bill would create a pilot project in the Florida Keys to study how on-site solar power and energy storage could provide electricity to critical infrastructure, like hospitals, during natural disasters like Hurricane Irma, which caused power outages in two-thirds of the state.
“As we’ve recently experienced first-hand with Hurricane Irma, there’s nothing more crucial in the wake of a disaster than power. Onsite solar energy storage systems are a forward-thinking solution to improving the security of energy supply at critical local facilities,” Raschein said of the bill. “Given that Florida is the Sunshine State, it only makes sense to tap into this resource when planning for stronger communities that are more resilient in recovering from a disaster.”
The pilot is aimed at measuring the benefits of using solar and energy storage in a microgrid configuration to allow it to island from the larger electric grid and provide energy to emergency shelters, hospitals and health facilities, airports, and emergency response units, like police and fire departments during a disaster or electric outage.
It’s likely the first pro-solar bill introduced in 2018 and is supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar. “Making sure our first responders and critical facilities have the power they need to deliver life-saving services during emergencies should be a top priority for any state, and solar plus storage is the easiest and most effective solution. This pilot program will demonstrate the effectiveness of solar and storage in maintaining grid resilience and help lawmakers implement this strategy on a larger scale,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO.
The Florida Solar Energy Center will study the pilot’s impact and make recommendations to expand the pilot program as energy security and disaster resilience policies for the state. It also will make recommendations for utility planning and procurement policies.
“Solar energy is already becoming a huge success story in Florida, and the excitement around new battery technology has been growing since it proved itself in the days after Irma, keeping lights and refrigerators on for families when the power grid was down for days,” said Scott Thomasson, Southeast Director of Vote Solar. “Scaling solar and energy storage as a strategic backup resource during disasters could have a real impact on people’s lives and security.”
“This is a crucial step in preparing Florida for future emergencies and we thank Rep. Holly Raschein for her leadership,” Hopper stated. Both SEIA and Vote Solar are pushing for the state to pass the bill and to implement the pilot.Tweet