By Todd Olinsky-Paul, CESA Project DirectorAmong the Northeastern states hit hardest by Superstorm Sandy in 2012, it was clear from the very start that Massachusetts took resilient power seriously. In the three years since then, the state has continued to roll out flagship programs and a serious commitment of resources.

Initially committing $40 million to the deployment of municipal-led resilient power systems in its Community Clean Energy Resiliency Initiative (CCERI), the state issued 27 technical assistance awards for project feasibility studies, and 19 project implementation awards in 2014, of which 11 involve solar+storage technologies. Because many of these projects will serve multiple facilities, a total of 28 critical facilities, including schools/shelters, communications centers, first responder facilities and hospitals, will have resilient solar+storage systems, with another handful of facilities relying primarily on CHP systems. The grant-winning municipalities are geographically diverse, and the state program included an extra incentive for low- to median-income communities to participate.

Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER), which administered the program, still has $12 million to spend in a third round of resiliency funding. In addition, DOER has recently upped its game with the announcement of another $10 million for energy storage deployment.

DOER is not the only Massachusetts energy agency interested in resiliency and storage. Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) has supported energy storage technology advancement through its InnovateMass grant program, and is now seeking to put more resources toward its own storage demonstration projects. And the state Department of Public Utilities is engaged in a grid modernization planning initiative that includes among its intended benefits increased reliability and resiliency of electrical services, investment in new technologies, and the integration of energy storage and microgrids into the state’s electricity infrastructure. Massachusetts utilities are required to formulate 10-year modernization plans incorporating these elements.

In order to provide some direction for all this new investment, DOER and MassCEC are cooperatively funding a two-part study to develop an energy storage roadmap for the state. In addition to expanding understanding of the opportunities for storage, the study is intended to identify the right amount of storage for the state’s needs, its applications, and the types of supports needed to bring the emerging energy storage industry to Massachusetts. The study is due early in 2016, and DOER anticipates issuing a solicitation based on its recommendations.

As I write this, the New York Times is reporting that a severe wind storm has left more than 380,000 customers without power in the Pacific Northwest. Clearly, widespread and long-lasting power outages are a universal problem, whether due to hurricanes, snow and ice, high winds, drought and wildfires, earthquakes, flooding, or more mundane equipment failures and human error. Lessons could be learned from Massachusetts’ commitment and leadership on this issue.