US DOE Selects Remote, Island Communities for Energy Resilience Aid

April 27, 2021
Department of Energy experts are working with 11 remote and island communities to reduce energy costs and power outages, including by setting up microgrids.

US Department of Energy (DOE) experts are working with 11 remote and island communities to reduce energy costs and power outages, some by setting up microgrids.

The effort, announced April 20, is part of the DOE’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP), which was unveiled late last year.

Through the program, the DOE provides resources and on-the-ground support for remote and island communities that want to transform their energy systems and lower their vulnerability to energy disruptions.

Remote and island communities are often heavily affected by climate change, according to the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), which is part of the initiative. These communities also often rely on fossil fuels for their energy, leading to some of the highest utility costs in the US, according to NREL.

Towns in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and North Carolina are the initial beneficiaries of the ETIPP.

Through the program, municipalities will be able to tap into the DOE’s network of national laboratories and regional partner organizations to help sort through their energy options.

Municipalities consider microgrids

At least two of the selected municipalities are considering installing microgrids.

Eastport, Maine, an island and the easternmost city in the US, wants to increase its energy resilience, reduce carbon emissions and take advantage of tidal energy, according to the DOE. Through the energy transitions program, the city will explore the infrastructure and siting needs for a microgrid that integrates with the regional grid.

About 5,000 miles away, Honolulu, Hawaii, is considering setting up hybrid microgrids to harden its electrical infrastructure from the threat of severe weather.

“Accelerating assistance will speed up Hawaii’s transition to renewable energy for our vehicles, homes and businesses in the face of climate change challenges,” Hawaii Democratic Sen. Mazie Hirono said.

Other ETIPP projects include:

  • The Alaska Longline Fisherman’s Association in Sitka, Alaska, will explore developing a hybrid fuel or electrified fishing fleet to reduce diesel reliance and increase the earning potential of its members.
  • The city of Sitka also plans to assess the available renewable resources in and around its community while planning for a more modern grid control system.
  • Dillingham, Alaska, will study replacing the imported fossil fuels needed to power its islanded grid with power from the proposed Nuyakuk River hydroelectric project.
  • Ouzinkie, Alaska, which relies on diesel generators and an aging hydroelectric system, wants to know how it can best use renewable energy and storage.
  • Wainwright, Alaska, in the Arctic Circle, is looking at options for using energy efficiency and renewable power to cut its reliance on diesel and increase its community resilience.
  • To reduce its dependence on energy from the mainland, Islesboro, Maine, will study the potential for energy efficiency measures, on-island renewable energy and energy storage.
  • Kauai, Hawaii, will explore alternative and autonomous mobility options to move away from fossil-fuel powered single occupancy vehicles and toward a clean transportation system.
  • To protect itself from extreme weather, Nags Head, North Carolina, will consider renewable energy and energy efficiency deployments. It also plans to examine up to 72 hours of backup generation for critical facilities used by first responders.
  • Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, which already has a microgrid, will study electrifying its ferry fleet.

In the fall, communities will be able to apply to be in the second group receiving technical assistance through the ETIPP.

Read more about microgrids for remote and island communities here on Microgrid Knowledge.

About the Author

Ethan Howland

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