The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Vote Solar are supporting HB 1133, filed in the Florida Legislature this week, that would demonstrate solar and energy storage’s ability to maintain grid resilience during natural disasters and states of emergency.
The bill establishes a pilot program in the Florida Keys to install on-site solar generation and energy storage to provide electricity to critical facilities during grid outages or failures, like the recent Hurricane Irma.
“As we’ve recently experienced first-hand with Hurricane Irma, there’s nothing more crucial in the wake of a disaster than power. Onsite solar energy storage systems are a forward-thinking solution to improving the security of energy supply at critical local facilities,” said Florida State Representative Holly Raschein, who is HB 1133’s main sponsor. “Given that Florida is the Sunshine State, it only makes sense to tap into this resource when planning for stronger communities that are more resilient in recovering from a disaster.”
The pilot program will measure the benefits of resilience assistance to support the energy needs of critical facilities, such as emergency shelters, hospitals and health facilities, airports, and emergency response units, like police and fire departments. Solar and energy storage can immediately offset these facilities’ power needs, provide backup energy during a grid outage, and store energy isolated from the utility’s electrical system for emergencies. They also eliminate the need for back-up diesel generators.
“This is a crucial step in preparing Florida for future emergencies and we thank Rep. Holly Raschein for her leadership,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Making sure our first responders and critical facilities have the power they need to deliver life-saving services during emergencies should be a top priority for any state, and solar plus storage is the easiest and most effective solution. This pilot program will demonstrate the effectiveness of solar and storage in maintaining grid resilience and help lawmakers implement this strategy on a larger scale.”
“Solar energy is already becoming a huge success story in Florida, and the excitement around new battery technology has been growing since it proved itself in the days after Irma, keeping lights and refrigerators on for families when the power grid was down for days,” said Scott Thomasson, Southeast Director of Vote Solar. “Scaling solar and energy storage as a strategic backup resource during disasters could have a real impact on people’s lives and security.”
The solar industry urges the Florida Legislature to pass this bill, implementing the pilot programs and corresponding Florida Solar Energy Center study measuring the benefits of the program.
— Solar Builder magazine