SanCap Resilience was awarded a federal grant to support a multi-stakeholder focus on energy resilience. The grant is part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL) Clean Energy to Communities (C2C) programs.
The non-cash grant includes consulting from the NREL network of energy experts for communities seeking to solve specific renewable energy and energy resilience challenges.
“We’re excited to receive this grant and the expert guidance it will bring us,” said Bob Moore, co-chair of SanCap Resilience. “After losing so much of our electric grid infrastructure in Hurricane Ian, there is a lot of interest in how we can adapt that infrastructure on Sanibel and Captiva to harden it against future storms. At the same time, as a barrier island community vulnerable to the future impacts of climate change, there is strong interest in adopting new, renewable energy technologies to make our energy supply more sustainable to preserve these sanctuary islands for future generations.”
To address the topic of energy resilience, the SanCap Resilience Steering Committee asked one of its partner organizations, the Sanibel-Captiva Renewable Energy Working Group (REWG), to lead the planning process. The REWG will be managing the consulting grant on behalf of SanCap Resilience.
The first step to addressing the complex set of issues that go into energy resilience is to bring together various stakeholders to agree on a high-level set of goals as a basis for future planning. Identified stakeholders include residents, businesses, nonprofits, the city of Sanibel, and the Lee County Electric Co-op (LCEC).
“We want to build a process to reflect the concerns and priorities of various parts of the community,” said Dr. Michael Savarese, Professor in the Department of Marine & Earth Sciences at the FGCU Water School and member of the REWG. “We agreed that getting a high level of stakeholder engagement right from the beginning will improve the chance of long-term success.”
“The timing of finding the NREL Expert Match program couldn’t have been better,” said Tom Bierma, retired environmental health professor and member of the working group. “The customized consulting the grant provides is tailor-made to our needs for this project.”
The consulting agreement targets three work areas to better understand and plan for energy resilience in our community:
- Assessment of vulnerabilities and solutions – develop a matrix of energy resilience issues and solutions with examples.
- Research to support a partnership with LCEC – provide a report on regulatory aspects of distribution only electric co-ops, questions to help forward collaboration with the utility, and examples of resilient energy case study solutions among similar utilities.
- Outline of a resilience planning process roadmap – provide a proposed process roadmap for stakeholder engagement and highlight existing resources to support community planning.
The grant provides about 40-60 hours of consulting over a three-to-four-month period. By the end of the grant period, the goal is to have the community actively engage in a planning process to create a stronger and more sustainable energy system that incorporates both centralized and distributed energy resources, energy efficiency, and the newest resilient energy technologies.
James Evans, CEO of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation (SCCF) and co-chair of the REWG, commented that “as we face the impacts of climate change, this is an incredibly important topic for our community. At SCCF, we’ve tried to lead by example. In the three facilities we are renovating or rebuilding after the storm, we have incorporated energy efficiency designs and solar energy, along with the solar we already had on other buildings. Resilience is central to our organization’s five-year strategic plan.”
SanCap Resilience is a coalition of 16 community organizations and concerned citizens. Its mission is to lead a community-based initiative to build resilience and protect the vibrancy of our sanctuary islands long into the future. SanCap Resilience is dedicated to planning, educating, and taking action to protect our natural and built environments. It is committed to advancing mitigation and adaptation strategies to reduce risks from climate change and other environmental threats. It believes in the values of the Sanibel Plan and the Captiva Community Plan, including promoting a diverse community, conservation, and living in harmony with one another and with nature to promote a high quality of life for our citizens. For information, contact [email protected].