Boston is the hub of green energy, but offshore wind can’t only exist in the Northeast, experts say

Northeastern Global News
Former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III told participants at an offshore wind symposium hosted by Northeastern University that Boston is the hub of a new revolution—the green energy revolution.

He said that just as farmers, tradesmen and mechanics refused to buckle under the imperial demands of England, so too will today’s revolutionaries overcome the entrenched interests of the fossil fuel industry.

“You in this room have not only picked the right side of industry, you are driving it,” Kennedy said during Monday’s keynote address for the National Offshore Wind Research & Development Symposium 2022.

The two-day event was intended to generate ideas and collaboration among people in the fledgling offshore wind industry.

“This symposium comes at a really critical time,” said Kevin Knobloch, acting executive director of the National Offshore Wind Research and Development Consortium. “I don’t think we can overstate the challenges that are in front of us.”

The Biden administration has a goal of deploying 30 gigawatts of offshore wind in the United States by 2030. There is talk of ramping up the target to 110 gigawatts by 2050, Knobloch said.

“The sense of urgency is intense,” Knobloch said.

Offshore wind “is vital to the energy landscape of the United States,” said Andrew T. Myers, associate chair of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Northeastern.

The industry is currently in the early stages of development, with Block Island Wind off Rhode Island and Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind off Virginia.

Vineyard Wind currently is in the process of building the nation’s first commercial-scale offshore wind project off the coast of Massachusetts.

The U.S. Department of Energy says 40,083 megawatts of energy from offshore wind farms are currently in various stages of development.

“I don’t think we can build too much or go too fast,” said Walter Musial, principal engineer and leader of the offshore wind research platform at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Opting for larger turbines could slow down the process, Musial said. Instead he suggested driving down the cost of offshore wind turbines and locating them off coastal areas wherever appropriate in the United States.

“We can’t just be putting turbines in the Northeast,” Musial said. “The Northeast is the leader. (But) we have to go everywhere there’s windy oceans.”

Just as wind energy blew jobs to the country’s interior, Kennedy said the offshore wind industry ultimately will create tens of thousands of new jobs on the coasts.

The Inflation Reduction Act signed into law Aug. 16 will help benefit the offshore wind industry with accommodations for siting, planning transmission infrastructure and expanding potential leasing areas.

A managing director at Citizens Energy, Kennedy said that part of the offshore wind industry challenge will be involving people living in low-income areas.

“The days when working class communities can be torn apart” to make room for transmission stations and corridors and highways “are long gone,” he said.

“While doing the right things for the planet we have to make sure we’re doing it the right way for humanity,” Kennedy said.

Jocelyn Brown-Saracino, offshore wind lead for the U.S. Department of Energy, said offshore wind will play a large role in meeting the net zero target by 2050.

A big part of the challenge will be to reduce costs, she said, adding it will require an all-hands on deck approach.

“We’ve made remarkable progress of late,” Brown-Saracino said. “I’m really looking forward to a year of growth and expansion.”

“The US is on the cusp of launching a new industry that will harness the vast resources of renewable wind energy off of our coasts,” Myers told News@Northeastern.

At Northeastern, “The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s foundation of use-inspired research of civil infrastructure positions us to answer industry questions and convene meetings of industry leaders like these,” he said.

Paraphrasing his great uncle President John F. Kennedy’s “moonshot” speech at Rice University that helped inaugurate the space race, Kennedy told symposium attendees, “Your work is not just hard, it’s necessary.”

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Schneider and Citizens Energy activate unique renewable microgrid on Connecticut campus

Microgrid Knowledge

Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy have activated the first microgrid in Connecticut that can run on 100% renewable energy around the clock while in island mode. The project is located at the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception campus.

The $7 million project, first described by Microgrid Knowledge in April 2021, evolved into a microgrid that will power four stand-alone buildings and reduce energy costs for the organization, which provides social services and senior care. The microgrid will employ 1.4 MWh of battery storage and 1.2 MW of solar generation, with a 250-kW natural gas generator available for emergency use.

The project is unusual in that it is essentially four individual microgrids engineered to allow each to remain grid-tied, island independently or share electrons and island together as one larger microgrid.

“We are so proud to celebrate this massive feat for renewables today,” said former US Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, now managing director at Citizens Energy. “My father founded this company to be a change maker. Not only are we fulfilling our mission to make life’s basic needs more affordable, but we are building the clean energy projects that others only talk about. This may be the first of its kind, but it won’t be the last!”

The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) granted $3.9 million for the microgrid.

“This advanced microgrid is the first in Connecticut to combine solar panels and battery storage to provide an extra layer of resilience for up to 19 days of continuous power to ensure that the important care and services the Daughters of Mary provide can continue during a power outage,” said DEEP Commissioner Katie Dyke.

Located in New Britain, the project was developed through the Connecticut Green Bank’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program, a green bank that allows facilities to pay over time through an assessment on their property tax bills.

“This project exemplifies the green bank’s vision for a ‘planet protected by the love of humanity,’ as the energy savings from this system allow the Daughters to enhance their mission of caring for those in need,” said Bryan Garcia, president and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank.

The microgrid project was named in honor of the late Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll, who was instrumental in the installation of a solar array on the campus five years ago. The array has been incorporated into the microgrid.

“On behalf of the full team at Schneider Electric, we’re honored to have been selected as a trusted alliance partner to make this incredibly dynamic project come to life,” said Don Wingate, vice president of microgrids at Schneider Electric. “We’re thrilled to bear witness to the positive impact of this one-of-a-kind microgrid on the critical care facilities that support families in crisis as it reduces the energy costs for the entire campus community.”

Two local Connecticut companies also worked on the project: Ecosolar Installations and Associated Real Estate Services.

One-of-a-kind microgrid powering system in New Britain recognized by people across US

From left to right, Joseph P. Kennedy III, now managing director at Citizens Energy Corporation, with Mayor Erin E. Stewart of New Britain, Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk from the Daughters of Mary, Schneider Electric VP of Microgrids Don Wingate, CT DEEP Acting Deputy Commissioner of Energy and Technology Policy Vicki Hackett, and Connecticut Green Bank CEO Bryan Garcia flip the switch on the unique project.

NEW BRITAIN – A $7 million feat in clean energy and innovation shepherded by the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception was recognized Thursday by people from across the United States.

This event marked the official launch of a one-of-a-kind microgrid powering four critical care facilities on the congregation’s 137-acre campus at 314 Osgood Ave.

The Daughters were joined by New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III, now managing director of the Boston-based non-profit Citizens Energy, representatives from the CT Dept. of Energy and Environmental Protection, the CT Green Bank and Schneider Electric, all of whom played an integral role in this project.

“We are so excited to be here; this is a very big day,” said Kennedy, whose father, Joseph Kennedy II, founded Citizens Energy to harness revenues from clean energy ventures to help those in need. “The Daughters of Mary campus is now 100% resilient and self-sustaining, saving them over $400,000 a year in energy costs,” he added.

The project was dedicated to the late Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll, whose foresight led the order to pursue renewable energy before its first solar array was completed five years ago. Upon Mother Jennifer’s passing in Feb. 2021, the sisterhood vowed to continue these efforts with the guidance of Karen Kulak of Associated Real Estate Services.

“With so much emphasis on environmental issues and concerns today, we applaud Mother Jennifer for being one step ahead of the game and her openness and willingness to think outside of the box,” Superior General Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk said of her beloved predecessor.

Utilizing a $3.87 million grant from the DEEP and innovations developed by the CT Green Bank’s C-PACE program, Citizen Energy and its strategic alliance partner Schneider Electric, the team built a microgrid system which boasts a battery energy storage capacity of 1.32 megawatt hours. That means in the case of an emergency power outage, it will provide up to 19 days of continuous power to the Motherhouse at Marion Heights, the Hospital for Special Care Research and Education Center, St. Lucian Residence, Monsignor Bojnowski Manor and the Prudence Crandall Center. The installation also included a 250 kilowatt natural gas generator for emergency use.

“The City of New Britain takes great pride in renewable energy projects to reduce our carbon footprint,” Mayor Stewart said. “To see other organizations also heading in that direction truly shows the commitment to making New Britain and our state a carbon-neutral place.”

CT DEEP Acting Commissioner of Energy and Technology Policy Vicki Hackett said this is the ninth microgrid project to be completed in Conn., with three others having also received funds.

“CT has the first statewide microgrid program in the U.S.,” Hackett said, adding that a second round of funding is expected to be announced shortly. “There is so much to be proud of here but it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Schneider Electric Vice President of Microgrids Don Wingate called this project “a beacon.”
“You’re helping people, solving problems and being a pillar for the community,” he told the Daughters of Mary. “I think this project here is going to spawn other activities not only in this city, but in the state and across the country.”

Bryan Garcia, CEO of the CT Green Bank, recalled a conversation he had with Mother Jennifer when his organization helped secure funds to finance the order’s first solar panel project. “Mother Jennifer taught me an important lesson that is now embodied in our vision statement,” Garcia said. The investment provides jobs in the community and saves greenhouse gas emissions, she pointed out, but it would also allow the order to increase summer programming for seniors and kids and residential housing. “And that’s love,” as she told him.

Robert Carroll, brother of the late Mother Jennifer, came from his home in Virginia to be a part of Thursday’s dedication.

“People didn’t realize what a gem she was,” Carroll said. ”This is just a small piece of all the things she did here over the years.”

Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy Activate First-of-its-kind Microgrid at Daughters of Mary

Photo: Citizens Energy / Hannah Goetz

North American Clean Energy

Schneider Electric, the global leader in the digital transformation of energy management and automation, joins Citizens Energy to flip the switch on a one-of-a-kind microgrid to power four critical community facilities at the Daughters of Mary of the Immaculate Conception campus.

Solar panels support first-of-its-kind microgrid at Daughters of Mary campus, activated by Schneider Electric and Citizens Energy

Schneider Electric VP of Microgrids Don Wingate is today joined by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III, now managing director at Citizens Energy Corporation, and Mayor Erin E. Stewart of New Britain, CT DEEP Acting Deputy Commissioner of Energy and Technology Policy Vicki Hackett, Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk from the Daughters of Mary, and Connecticut Green Bank CEO Bryan Garcia to dedicate the unique microgrid.

The project was named in honor of the late Mother Mary Jennifer Carroll, who first led the order down the path of sustainable energy development. The first installation, a solar array, was completed five years ago and is now a key component of the campus microgrid to serve its senior living facilities.

“We are so proud to celebrate this massive feat for renewables today,” said Kennedy, who joined Citizens Energy to develop new business opportunities. “My father founded this company to be a change maker. Not only are we fulfilling our mission to make life’s basic needs more affordable, but we are building the clean energy projects that others only talk about. This may be the first of its kind, but it won’t be the last!”

The project transforms the 137-acre campus into a groundbreaking renewable energy hub, using green energy to power four standalone buildings and reduce energy costs for the organization. The $7 million project ensures that the critical institution will be able to provide much-needed social services and senior care through emergencies that threaten the local electric grid.

“Throughout my entire time as Mayor we have placed an emphasis on making New Britain a greener, more sustainable City,” said Mayor Erin E. Stewart. “This microgrid project fits in perfectly with that mission and we appreciate the Daughters of Mary for their efforts to help New Britain reduce its environmental footprint.”

“We, the Daughters of Mary, are so proud and pleased to play a role in such an important and viable environmental issue,” said Mother Mary Janice Zdunczyk. “We are grateful to Mother Mary Jennifer for her vision and foresight to pioneer into unchartered territory and achieve such innovative and financial success. We also wish to thank her ‘silent partner,’ Karen Kulak, for her due diligence in pursuing this unique battery concept and working alongside of Mother Jennifer, during and after, to see it to completion.”

The innovative design combines 1.4 megawatt hours of battery storage capacity with a total of 1.2 megawatts of solar generation to create a completely self-sufficient system. This unique technology utilizes funding provided by a grant from the State of Connecticut administered by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in the amount of $3.9 million, the largest-of-its-kind for microgrid development to be completed. The project is also the state’s first microgrid capable of operating on 100% renewable energy around the clock in island mode.

“I applaud the pioneering vision of the Daughters of Mary to continue innovating the energy system on their campus,” DEEP Commissioner Katie Dykes said. “This advanced microgrid is the first in Connecticut to combine solar panels and battery storage to provide an extra layer of resilience for up to 19 days of continuous power to ensure that the important care and services the Daughters of Mary provide can continue during a power outage.”

This state-of-the-art technology is essentially four individual microgrids that deploy groundbreaking engineering work to allow the individual systems to remain grid-tied, island independently, or share electrons and island together as one larger microgrid. The installation also includes a 250 kW natural gas generator for emergency use. This first-of-its-kind solution is also Citizens Energy’s first project with its strategic alliance partner, Schneider Electric.

“On behalf of the full team at Schneider Electric, we’re honored to have been selected as a trusted alliance partner to make this incredibly dynamic project come to life,” shared Don Wingate, Vice President of Microgrids at Schneider Electric. “We’re thrilled to bear witness to the positive impact of this one-of-a-kind microgrid on the critical care facilities that support families in crisis as it reduces the energy costs for the entire campus community.”

The innovative technology was developed through the Connecticut Green Bank’s Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) program. The nation’s first green bank offers this unique financial model that lets you pay for green improvements over time through a voluntary benefit assessment on your property tax bill. C-PACE makes it easier for building owners to secure low-interest capital to fund energy improvements.

“This project exemplifies the Green Bank’s vision for a ‘planet protected by the love of humanity,’ as the energy savings from this system allow the Daughters to enhance their mission of caring for those in need,” said Bryan Garcia, President and CEO of the Connecticut Green Bank. “When I met Mother Jennifer at the first ribbon cutting five years ago, her words were a source of inspiration helping connect our work in green energy to the human impact in our communities. Congratulations to everyone who made this project happen.”

Two local Connecticut companies, Ecosolar Installations and Associated Real Estate Services, have also played instrumental roles throughout the development cycle, assisting with the grant process as well as local stakeholder management. Ecosolar served as the primary construction lead, responsible for the site work, construction and electrical work associated with all aspects for the project including solar, storage, natural gas generator and controls. Both companies continue to support the project.

Citizens Energy | https://

Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection |

Connecticut Green Bank | https://

Schneider Electric | https://

Locals press Biden on fuel assistance

Phillip Mayo says he would not be able to heat his home without federal assistance. PHOTO: Anna Lamb

Former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy III and several representatives from local organizations that provide reduced-cost and no-cost energy to low-income residents came together in Roxbury last week to urge President Joe Biden to increase federal funding to $10 billion for fuel assistance programs next year.

The ask comes just a week after President Biden visited Massachusetts and promised to help states mitigate the effects of climate change, including combating extreme weather.

Standing outside the home of Phillip Mayo, a 75-year-old recipient of federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds, Kennedy spoke about the need to fund the program, as unprecedented heat waves along with the cold approaching this fall and winter pose threats to vulnerable residents both in Massachusetts and across the country.

“These temperature extremes, which are getting more extreme with each passing year, [are] not just discomfort. Families cannot keep pace with soaring energy bills. Extreme heat incidents kill about 1,000 people in the United States every year,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy spoke of the extreme burden facing American households, with many low-income families paying up to 40% of their income on heating and cooling.

He also noted that inflation is exacerbating high oil and gas costs, impacting gas heating and cooling, with U.S. electricity generated in large part by gas-fired power plants.

“It’s important that it’s a $10 billion agreement,” he said. “The value of every dollar for heating oil assistance erodes by 50% when prices double, as they have this year. Just to keep pace with those increases, more resources are needed, and we know that cooling assistance is a need that is not going away as the earth heats up further.”

Last year the LIHEAP funding was doubled to $8 billion, using money from federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds, but without action from the president, the budget for the program is set to return to $4 billion despite the continuing price hikes.

Also speaking last Wednesday were representatives from Action for Boston Community Development (ABCD), one of the primary distributors of LIHEAP funds, and Michael Kennedy, representing Citizens Energy, a nonprofit founded by Joseph Kennedy II to assist low-income households with energy payments.

According to Sharon Scott-Chandler, president and CEO of ABCD, her organization saw a huge need in the last year, serving more than 24,000 customers in the greater Boston area with a maximum benefit of $2,100 for households with incomes at 100% of the federal poverty level.

“Yet with escalating prices and bitter cold, folks still exhausted benefits,” she said Wednesday. “By April, 75% of our clients had used up their benefits and were under great strain. Looking ahead, if we don’t secure the requested funding, many vulnerable elders and families will find themselves in crisis.”

Mayo, who’s lived in his Roxbury home for decades, said that before ABCD stepped in to help, he was facing a dire dilemma, with a leaking oil tank and a fixed income.

“It’s not easy getting through a cold winter,” Mayo said. “The price of oil is going up over 100%, and we can’t do it without your help.”

Valerie Saucer, a Dorchester resident who also became an ABCD client this year, said she, too, had problems with her oil tank and faced having to go without crucial heating and cooling before LIHEAP assistance.

“Over a winter I was paying close to $5,000,” she said. “On a fixed income it’s very, very difficult to do.”

In all, 11 people signed a two-page letter to Biden. The letter urged the president to “make sure that there’s enough fuel in the LIHEAP assistance tank to avoid a deadly summer toll due to rising heat and a winter of bitter discontent among those least able to afford skyrocketing energy prices.”

Cooling costs, inflation putting pressure on energy assistance

Former U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy III talks with LIHEAP recipient Phillip Mayo. PHOTO: HANNAH GOETZ

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Federal energy assistance for low-income households ballooned during the COVID-19 pandemic to $8 billion, but with funding for heating and cooling aid forecast to return to normal levels and energy prices doubling in the last year advocates are calling on President Joe Biden to boost support for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy III and leaders with Action for Boston Community Development and other organizations signed a letter to Biden Wednesday calling on him to increase funding for LIHEAP to $10 billion. Kennedy, whose father founded Citizens Energy to support low-income households, said most households pay about 5 percent of their budget on energy costs, but for low-income families the expense of heating and cooling their homes can climb to 40 percent.

While money from the American Rescue Plan Act was used to boost LIHEAP funding to $8 billion last year, the budget for the federal assistance program is set to return to $4 billion in fiscal 2023 despite the price of home heating oil doubling in the past year to over $5 a gallon.

“Please, Mr. President, please boost funding for LIHEAP so no one is left out in the cold,” Kennedy said, standing outside the Roxbury home of LIHEAP recipient Phillip Mayo.

Mayo said for families like his living on a fixed income the rising price of energy means he will be unable this winter to afford to fully heat his home. “If fuel assistance is not increased, we’ll go cold,” Mayo said.

Kennedy signed the letter to Biden along with leaders from ABCD, the Massachusetts Energy Marketers Association, the Massachusetts Association for Community Action, Global Partners, Energy Policy Research Foundation, and Citizens for Citizens. Biden was in Somerset last week to announce actions his administration was taking to combat climate change, including an allowance for states to use federal funds to pay for air conditioners in homes and set up community cooling centers in schools where people can get relief form the extreme heat.

Sharon Scott-Chandler, president of ABCD, said the maximum LIHEAP benefit last season totaled $2,100, and 75 percent of recipients who access benefits through ABCD had used up their aid by April. Liz Berube, executive director of Citizens for Citizens, said Massachusetts has historically never received sufficient funding to meet the need, often choosing to provide heating relief during the cold months without enough funds left over to help families with cooling expenses.

In addition to the $10 billion from the federal government, Berube said her organization is hopeful the Legislature will approve $10 million for energy assistance in the economic development bill still being negotiated on Beacon Hill.

“We asked for that because we could see the writing on the wall,” Berube said.

IID breaks ground building major transmission line

SEELEY — The $55 million S-Line transmission groundbreaking was appropriately held with solar panels and the Imperial Valley Sub-station flanking the ceremony as Imperial Irrigation District and Imperial County officials joined stakeholders digging gold-colored shovels into the ground, marking the physical beginning of the major transmission line upgrade, Thursday, Dec. 9.

Its purpose is to import and export power, connecting the Imperial Valley and El Centro substations and maintain stable and reliable power to IID customers and the Southern California energy grid.

The 18-mile S-Line was originally constructed in the 1980s with technology now outdated. The 293 wooden poles that carry the lines wheeling electricity from the Valley to San Diego and Arizona will be replaced with 184 steel poles and 18 miles of fiber optic wire.

Ryan Jordan of Cordova was the senior project manager of the build. He explained that the S-Line, so called because of its shape, will carry the same voltage but will bear more load than the old line did.

“The project had a lot of issues. It is not technically hard to do, but the logistics are challenging. It’s like you have a big puzzle with all the parts moving and at one point you need to make everything come together exactly,” Jordan said. “But the IID folks are amazing, there was a lot of passion, and now the project will be built.”

Others involved with the design and engineering were ZGlobal and Ferrera Power West. Citizens Energy, Joe Kennedy’s firm, helped finance the project. Peter Smith, Citizens Energy representative spoke at the ground-breaking ceremony.

Antonio Ortega, IID Government Affairs and Communications officer, said Sunpin will be the first to connect to the new, improved line when it is expected to be completed by late 2022. The power load it will carry could provide 325,000 homes with electricity, but it’s use will be to wheel the power generated from the solar fields to San Diego. The solar fields, as the one in the background, will wheel its created power through the S-Line to the substation at the end of the line where other companies will interconnect buying the electricity to power Southern California.

“It was 15 years ago when Joe first came to the Valley with Sunrise Power. People in D.C. are just now trying to put energy and social justice together. You are way ahead of them, Citizens has been plowing half our profits into installing solar panels in low-income housing here,” Smith told the assembled dignitaries.

IID Board President Jim Hanks was the keynote speaker, saying he had been chasing this line for 15 years, saying the IID had been missing potential money on it and now it was a monumental project putting a major transmission line on the IID grid.

“If you look at the shovels,” Hanks pointed to the lineup of golden shovels and hard-hats resting on the handles, you will see that one lacks a hard hat.” He reached into the podium bringing out the missing hard hat. “This one’s mine, I expect there to be many more projects, so I keep this in my car. I’ve got a shovel in there too,” he said to the laughter of those attending.

Breezy day marks start of major IID project

SEELEY – A chilly December wind peppering their faces with Imperial Valley’s legendary dust, a group of dignitaries and corporate officials gathered Thursday morning on a remote roadside southwest of El Centro to break ground on a project expected to, among other advantages, reduce power outages.

The upgrade to the Imperial Irrigation District “S-Line” will cost $55 million. It will involve replacing 293 wooden poles prone regularly to collapsing during high winds with 184 steel poles snaking 18 miles from an IID electric substation southwest of El Centro to another on the city’s far-eastern side.

“This line has been on the ground quite a bit over the years,” said Danny Ashmore, a senior vice president of Ferreira Power West, the firm that will be doing the construction.

The event was held at Drew and Wixom roads, south of Seeley near the IID substation that anchors one end of the line and under the very poles that will be replaced. The adjacent Campo Verde Solar farm served as a de facto backdrop.

Besides moving electricity within IID’s service area, the line interconnects the area’s burgeoning renewable energy sources, including solar and geothermal, with customers outside the area purchasing that electricity.

“The upgrade project will increase the transmission capacity available to interconnect new energy projects built in IID’s service territory,” a fact sheet distributed at the event stated.

“I’ve been chasing this line for 15 years. I’m 15 years older now,” said IID Director James Hanks. “I want to see this line built before I go home.”

Hanks is likely to get his wish as completion is expected in 2022. Besides pole/line replacement, the project will include redesign or relocation of some distribution facilities.

The line was put into service in the late 1980s and is the primary path for the import and export of power through IID into other areas of California and Arizona, IID stated. The agreements needed to initiate the power-line upgrade were approved by the IID Board of Directors in October 2020.

The cost is being divided between IID, which approved funding in November, and Citizens Energy Corp., a national nonprofit renewable energy firm that locally operates the Imperial Solar farm. It aids low-income customers by contributing half of its after-tax profits to fund programs such as the S-Line upgrade in IID’s service territory, IID stated.

Citizens is paying $40 million of the cost. To pay its share, IID will issue bonds that are ultimately paid back through energy rates.

IID’s construction contract is with Sunpin Solar of Irvine with Ferreira Power doing the installation under Sunpin, IID officials explained.

While Ferreira Power’s parent firm, Ferreira Construction, is based in Branchburg, N.J., the firm formed the subsidiary in 2019 because of the demand for power projects in California, said Charles Roper, vice president of operations for Ferreira Power.

The firm employs several Imperial County residents who will work on the project, including himself, Roper said. In addition, subcontractors include local firms Hoyt Engineering and Precision Engineering. Nearly 100 workers are expected to be needed to finish the job, he said.

Brown Bag Coalition breaks out shower trailer for homeless community

CALEXICO — The Brown Bag Coalition inaugurated it’s homeless shower trailer at the Gran Plaza Outlets’ offsite lot on Rockwood and Third St. Friday, Nov. 12.

“When we started the Brown Bag Coalition, what I wanted to offer to the homeless community was what was most needed,” said Co-Founder Maribel Padilla. “These people have nowhere to shower. Some get money of sorts at the beginning of the month, rent a hotel, take a shower, then potentially go the rest of the month without. So, the main objective was to get showers for them.”

The shower trailer cost $23,000 and was attained through fundraising.

As per organizers, IID Director Norma Sierra Galindo and former IID Director Erik Ortega submitted the Brown Bag Coalition for a $15,000 grant from Citizens Energy Corporation. Then the IID itself, added a $5,700 grant.

“We at Brown Bag Coalition were able to raise the rest, along with the help of various other sponsors such as County of Imperial, Sun Community Federal Credit Union, Calexico McDonalds, and Planned Parenthood.”

Brown Bag Coalition also informed of received in-kind donations, such as Gran Plaza Outlet donating their lot.

“Leading up to the event, I spoke with the homeless community at Border Park and told them we would be having an event where the first 10 people that show up would be able to use the shower trailer,” said Padilla.

The shower trailer’s water tank holds about 125 gallons of water, so shower time and availability were limited.

“We had an additional porta-potty and hand wash station on site so that the trailer would only be used for shower and not toilette purposes,” said Padilla.

Orange chips were handed out to the first 10 people, which designated shower allowance. Before taking a shower, patrons were given a towel and a baggie of sundries for bathing.

Free haircuts were also available for anyone in the homeless community to utilize. Chaplain Michael Rodriguez offered his barber services for those who elected to get a haircut.

The first 30 people who came in were given a card they had to get stamped by each agency. When the card was filled, it was to be turned in to the registration table where they would get a $5 gift card from McDonald’s.

Resource fair agencies consisted of Planned Parenthood, Imperial County Behavioral Health, Imperial Valley Food Bank, Catholic Charities, Barron’s Enterprises, Calexico United Methodist, Church, and Imperial County Health Department.

New clothes, shoes, jackets, and blankets were raffled off at the end of the event and the health department also had a booth and offered free flu shots (30) and COVID vaccinations (15 Johnson and Johnson).

Nearly 100 event goers in total attended the event.

As per Padilla, the Brown Bag Coalition plans on hosting more events to make the shower trailer available more consistently for the homeless community. The 2021 Christmas Posada is slated for December at Border Park. An exact date will be released in the near future.

A big power pack with a goal of sustainability in Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Navy Yard has added a battery storage system that can do a lot more than run some power tools.

The 6.4-megawatt system is designed to kick in on hot days or very cold ones, when businesses are charged extra for accessing power from the electric grid, in order to save them money.

The system is contained in three customized storage containers at the edge of the Navy Yard near the Delaware River. It has 2,240 lithium batteries contained in racks that line the climate-controlled containers.

The batteries can be charged from renewable energy from solar panels, windmills, or conventional power generation, but only are tapped when the power grid is stressed in a way that would require extra fossil fuel generators to kick in. The batteries in the system charge during off-peak hours when residential demand is lower, and are designed to provide consistent power for the businesses in the Navy Yard, giving them a reliable source of power at a stable price, said Michael Kennedy, vice president of Citizens Energy.

Hopeful the incoming Biden administration will help it address climate change, the city now has a goal of achieving carbon-neutral emissions by 2050.

Kennedy added that when the system isn’t providing power for the businesses at the Navy Yard, it can also put power back into the region to help prevent stress on its power grid.

The Navy Yard has its own grid, and when the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation took over the facility in 2000, it found it was not strong enough for the new mission of the facility, said Kate McNamara, senior vice president of PIDC. Over the past two decades, she said, PIDC has been upgrading the system, including a community solar farm in 2017, and an 8-megawatt natural gas generating plant in 2018.

Mayor Jim Kenney attended the dedication of the battery storage project. He said the project will help businesses use energy more efficiently and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.

Kenney’s administration has set an ambitious goal of being carbon neutral by the year 2050.

Biden’s climate plans call for spending big on energy efficiency. New research could help make sure it actually targets the poor and minority households that most need it.

Citizens Energy installed the system at the yard. Michael Kennedy is the nephew of former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II, who founded the company. He said the project is designed to produce green power while also helping businesses control costs.

“It allows the tenants of the Philadelphia Navy Yard to save money on their energy bills by running their electricity needs off the battery rather than the grid when energy prices are high … it’s called peak shaving.”

Thomas Queenan is senior vice president and chief operating officer of the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation which runs the yard. He said it gives the business facility some energy independence.

“It allows us to be more self-sufficient, it improves sustainability, and allows us to reduce our carbon footprint and to do a better job with the use of energy and fossil fuels.”

The approximately $8 million project will be used only about 20 days a year, according to Kennedy, but the cost savings could result in businesses deciding to move to the South Philadelphia facility.

The project is the second installation of its kind by the Boston-based nonprofit, whose aim is to use money generated by energy ventures to help people in need. Citizens Energy has generated over $600 million in charitable benefits for struggling households, including a heating oil program in Philadelphia for low-income residents.

Holyoke, Citizens Energy honor ‘favorite son’ Martin Dunn with $7M power storage battery facility

Citizens Energy Corporation and Holyoke Gas & Electric dedicate the first completed Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) to the late former Holyoke mayor and state senator, Martin “Marty” Dunn.

HOLYOKE — Kathleen Dunn flipped a ceremonial switch Thursday, inaugurating a $7 million, 5-megawatt battery energy storage system named in honor of her late husband, former Holyoke Mayor and state Sen. Martin J. Dunn.

“Marty loved the city of Holyoke and he loved its people,” she said . “This is the culmination of his dedication.”

Dunn died in September 2020 at the age of 64. As an attorney after his time in public service, he represented Citizens Energy — a Boston-based nonprofit founded and headed by former U.S. Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy II — on renewable and green energy projects, Kathleen Dunn said.

Michael Kennedy, nephew of Joseph P. Kennedy II and a vice president of Citizens Energy, said the event highlights Dunn’s commitment to friendship as a warm, engaging personality who also helped Citizens Energy further its goals of low-cost, carbon-free energy.

“There was nothing he wouldn’t do for his community and his friends and neighbors,” Michael Kennedy said.

State Rep. Patricia Duffy, D-Holyoke, described Dunn as Holyoke’s “favorite son.” Acting Mayor Terrance Murphy was on hand to honor him, along with other local officials past and present including 86-year-old former Massachusetts House speaker David M. Bartley, accompanied by his son, City Councilor David K. Bartley.

One of Dunn’s longtime friends, former state Sen. John P. Burke, whom Dunn succeeded as senator in 1991, said of the dedication, “Marty would have liked this. Storage is cutting edge. Someday people will have a suitcase-sized battery storage apparatus in their garage or basement that will deliver green energy. An important step!”

Burke was unable to be in Holyoke for the dedication.

The Martin J. Dunn Energy Center is a system of 1,896 lithium-ion batteries in three 53-foot-long shipping containers placed near a Holyoke Gas & Electric substation at 50 Water St. in the city’s Canal District. Inside the containers, the batteries look like a computer server farm, said Peter F. Smith, Citizens Energy CEO. There are air conditioners to keep the batteries cool and transformers to take alternating current from the grid, make direct current for storage then put alternating current back on the grid.

James Lavelle, HG&E general manager, said the problem with carbon-free green energy like Holyoke’s hydroelectric capacity is that the power available when demand is there and demand can peak and outstrip capacity. Battery storage — HG&E and a different partner have a similar 3-megawatt battery system at Smith’s Landingwhere the old Mount Tom coal plant once was — lets Holyoke Gas & Electric store up power when its cheap and demand is low and then use it when demand is high.

At this time of year that would be afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m. as folks get home from work and make supper.

“That’s when that 10 megawatt hours — five megawatts over two hours — really comes into play to meet that peak demand,” he said.

That saves Holyoke Gas & Electric and its rate payers money, Lavelle said. That savings is shared with Citizens Energy Corp. in a deal Lavelle can’t discuss publicly.

Battery storage also allows Holyoke Gas & Electric to increase its capacity to provide power without building more lines and substations.

“And we are always trying to attract new customers, more industry for Holyoke,” he said. “It allows us to put off those capital expenses.”

For regional grid operator ISO New England, the battery helps to regulate the power grid and earns money for Citizens Energy for that service, Smith said.

Michael Kennedy said communities have only just begun their transition to a green-energy future.

“And that doesn’t happen without storage,” he said. “That intermittence, that’s the challenge. That’s the opportunity.”

Citizens Energy has two other storage projects coming online: one in Connecticut and one near Philadelphia. This is its first in Massachusetts.

Dedication held for battery storage project in Holyoke

HOLYOKE, MA (WGGB/WSHM) — There’s some potential energy relief for residents in Holyoke. On Thursday, Citizens Energy turned on a new battery energy storage system in the city.

The nearly five megawatt system will allow Holyoke Gas and Electric to have an alternative source of energy for customers when the demand and cost of power peaks during the day.

Former Congressman Joseph Kennedy founded Citizens Energy more than 40 years ago.