TRENTON, NJ—The Christie administration haslaid the groundwork for what is believed to be the firststate-level fund intended to bankroll projects to makeenergy infrastructure more resilient inextreme weather. Known as the New Jersey EnergyResilience Bank, the fund uses $200 million through New Jersey'ssecond Community Development Block Grant-DisasterRecovery allocation.

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First proposed this past February, the initiative comes afterSuperstorm Sandy left an estimated five millionNew Jersey residents without power in the fall of 2012. Distributedenergy resources, including combined heat and power, fuel cells andoff-grid solar inverters with battery storage, allowed somecritical facilities, such as hospitals, wastewater treatment plantsand universities, to remain operational while the electric grid wasdown. ERB is intended to enable many more such facilities to remainoperational during future outages.

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“Distributed energy resources proved extremely resilientfollowing Sandy; unfortunately, due to high initial costs, manycritical facilities do not have these energy resilience solutionsin place,” says Michele Brown, CEO of theNew Jersey Economic Development Authority. “TheERB will help address this unmet need by providing technical andfinancial support to critical facilities across New Jersey toensure they have a path for building energy resilience.”

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The ERB will be focused on providing capital, via bothlow-interest loans and grants, to critical facilities that offerthe greatest resilience benefits for the state. Among these arewater and wastewater treatment plants and hospitals, withsubsequent funding directed towards other critical facilities,including transportation and transportation networks, emergencyresponse facilities including police, fire, emergency servicesbuildings, and schools that can function as shelters in case ofemergency. Realizing resilient energy solutions at water andwastewater treatment plants will be an early priority.

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Earlier this week, the NJ Board of PublicUtilities approved a sub-recipient agreement with the EDAto work jointly in the establishment and operation of the ERB. TheEDA had approved the agreement on July 10.

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The EDA and BPU also announced the hiring of staff to fill twoERB leadership positions. Mitch Carpen has beennamed the ERB's executive director, while Thomas N.Walker has been named deputy director.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.