The impact of recent superstorms has been cited by a state representative as motivational in calling for a $10m investment in resilient power infrastructure.

Rep. Holly Raschein, a Republican from the Florida Keys, has proposed a bill to create a solar plus storage program to bolster resiliency for critical facilities.
Holly Raschein
Hurricane Irma is linked to deaths at nursing homes in the region after a power outage knocked out air conditioning and created sweltering conditions, while two thirds of the state was plunged into darkness.

The bill establishes a pilot program in vulnerable areas to demonstrate solar plus storage technologies at critical facilities, such as shelters, health-care facilities, airports and police and fire stations.

“As we’ve recently experienced first-hand with Hurricane Irma, there’s nothing more crucial in the wake of a disaster than power. On-site solar energy storage systems are a forward-thinking solution to improving the security of energy supply at critical local facilities,” Raschein said.

The bill does not specifically reference microgrids, but says that the solar plus storage systems must be capable of isolating from the electric grid and operating independently during a utility electrical outage – a key feature of a microgrid.

Grants would go to systems placed into service after Jan. 1, 2018.

If approved, the bill also would require a study by the Florida Solar Energy Center, which would look at the pilot’s impact on public health and safety, disaster preparedness and resilience, capital investment, net customer savings, net utility savings or deferred investments, net job creation, impact on utility service rates and service quality, and related factors.

Based on the study results, the center will advise on possible expansion of the program with recommendations for statewide utility planning and procurement of solar plus storage.