Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project: Cohort 4 Informational Webinar (Text Version)

This is a text version of the video Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project: Cohort 4 Informational Webinar.

In this webinar, leaders from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) discuss the program’s open application, and former ETIPP participants speak about their experiences.

>>Tessa Greco: Hello, everyone. I'm going to go ahead and get started. Welcome. Thanks for joining our informational webinar for the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project or ETIPP for short. We are very pleased to see you all with us here today. A few housekeeping notes. Before we get started, please note that this webinar is being recorded. We ask that you remain muted with your camera off during the first portion of the webinar to reduce bandwidth issues.

You're welcome throughout this webinar to type any questions in the chat, and we're going to answer all of the questions during the Q&A session at the end of this webinar. And let's see. We will spend the last 10, 15 minutes or so in breakout rooms with some of our regional partners and regional leads where you can turn on and are encouraged to turn on your camera and engage with the various folks that are going to be in your breakout rooms alongside you.

To kick us off, my name is Tessa Greco. I am one of the program leads for the Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project on behalf of the Department of Energy. And I am very pleased to be with you all initiating our fourth cohort for ETIPP. Here's a look at how we're going to spend the next hour together.


We're going to begin by offering some background information on ETIPP, including some new features of the program that are just launching this year. After that, we'll discuss the application process and scoping process for selected communities. And you're going to be able to hear from representatives from three of our current ETIPP communities to learn more about their experiences since joining and working through scoping and implementation.

Again, we're going to take questions after the presentations wrap up. So feel free to drop them in the chat or wait until those presentations are complete and you'll be able to come off mute and ask your questions. Let's see. And then in those breakouts, as I previously described, you will have an opportunity to just engage with the regional partners and regional leads that are present, ask some more questions, understand if ETIPP is a good fit for your community, as well as learn how to strengthen your application if you are interested in pursuing that.

What is ETIPP?

So without further ado, let's go ahead and get started. So what is ETIPP? The Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of Energy, national laboratories, and regional partner organizations. Our team uses a community-driven approach to provide direct technical assistance to coastal, remote, and island communities to increase their energy resilience.

We support projects that aim to explore renewable energy options, such as solar, wind, geothermal, water, as well as efforts to increase energy efficiency or understand microgrid planning and design schemas alongside community partners among many other project variations. ETIPP is currently supported by a pretty expansive partner network, and it's growing almost every day.

ETIPP Partner Network

So this includes energy experts at four DOE national laboratories. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, as well as sponsoring offices from the DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. And finally, regional partners, some of whom are on this call today.

And the regional partners to go into a bit more depth are community-based organizations located across the US that specialize in community engagement, training, and education around energy issues. They support communities interested in ETIPP throughout the application, selection, and project execution process.

They also help raise awareness about ETIPP projects across each region. And finally, ensure ETIPP is meeting each region's unique energy needs. In addition to the regional partners here today from the Renewable Energy Alaska project, which supports our Alaskan communities, the Island Institute, which supports communities in the Northeast, and Spark Northwest, supporting communities in the Pacific Northwest. We're working to secure additional regional partners to support communities in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the southeastern seaboard, the Gulf Coast, and the Great Lakes regions.

So we're in the process of finalizing those partnerships. So stay tuned for more information about new organizations joining the ETIPP partner network. And here I'm going to take a moment, stop, and pass it over to Caroline McGregor, who is representing the Department of Energy Office of Strategic Programs, to just introduce herself and her perspective on ETIPP. Caroline, over to you.

>>Caroline McGregor: Tessa, thank you so much. It's a delight to be here with you all. On behalf of EERE, my division of the Department of Energy, we cover renewable energy technologies, energy efficiency technologies for buildings and industry, and then sustainable transportation, cuts across that broad swath.

My particular office sits across all three. So integrating them, the integrated strategies, if you will. And one of the things we're most proud of is our support for ETI, the initiative and the partnership project, which is the technical assistance program underneath that ETI umbrella. It's a flagship among the department's technical assistance programs. We're really committed to our work in support of island remote and island edge, I guess, communities. And have a proud history with this program. So really hope that you all might choose to be part of it in the future. And thank you so much for being here.

Eligibility: Coastal, Remote, and Island Communities

>>Tessa Greco: All right. Thanks, Caroline. Appreciate your comments. All right. Moving right along. So many might be wondering around the eligibility for ETIPP. Caroline and I mentioned it is a program targeted for coastal, remote, and island communities in the U.S. and its territories.

So communities within that definition are eligible. This map, while it's not perfect, offers a general sense of the regions that ETIPP serves. Coastal, remote, and island communities, as you all know, face very unique energy challenges because of their geographic isolation, which can often contribute to issues with energy access, quality, affordability, and reliability.

So ETIPP technical assistance helps address these challenges with community-driven solutions that aim to increase their long-term energy resilience. This year, we've revised some of the guidance. I am so sorry, everyone. I thought that I had unmuted. Let me just repeat the eligibility portion of this conversation.

So who is eligible to join ETIPP? We mentioned that coastal, remote, and island communities in the United States and its territories are eligible. And this map offers a general sense of the regions that ETIPP serves. Coastal, remote, and island communities, as we all know here, face very unique energy challenges because of their geographic isolation, which can contribute to issues with energy access, quality, affordability, and reliability.

And ETIPP technical assistance helps address these challenges with community-driven solutions that aim to increase their long-term energy resilience. This year, we have revised some of the guidance around exactly which types of communities are eligible for ETIPP. A community or organization is eligible to apply if it falls into at least one of these categories, and they're displayed on the screen as well, so if it is located on an island, if it is within 50 miles of a coastline, that includes ocean and sea coasts as well as areas surrounding the Great Lakes.

It is in Alaska and not serviced by Railbelt grid utilities. Or if it is a federally recognized tribe in an ETIPP-supported region. When we talk about communities, there are several different kinds of entities that are eligible for ETIPP. So the types of eligible applicants include local governments such as a county, city, or town government, tribes, or tribal organizations, community-based organizations such as nonprofits or nongovernmental organizations, special purpose districts like school or water districts, U.S. academic institutions, or municipal or co-op utilities.

More details about the eligibility guidelines are available on our website. And I encourage everyone to visit that website and review the eligibility should you have any questions. So here's a look at communities where ETIPP has worked since the program launched in 2021.

ETIPP Communities

In its first three cohorts, ETIPP selected a total of 32 communities to receive technical assistance. These communities are primarily located in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest, Pacific islands, and the East Coast. As you saw in the last slide, communities are eligible for ETIPP, if they are coastal, remote, or island. And we encourage interested communities to apply to ETIPP if they experience energy resilience challenges. For example, frequent energy disruptions, threats to energy infrastructure from natural hazards, so on and so forth.

ETIPP Technical Assistance

So what do we mean when we say ETIPP offers technical assistance? It's a pretty broad term, broad and encapsulating term. And it means we offer expert guidance on answering questions like which energy efficiency measures a community might consider, what it would look like to transition off of fossil fuels, or increase your renewable resources and generation resources onto your grid, how to accommodate growing energy demand with renewable sources, among others. Experts at DOE's national labs help answer these questions using data-driven economic, environmental, and grid analyzes. And this graphic shows some examples of the different types of technologies, our first cohort of communities explored.

[Map of U.S. shows color-coded dots in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and North Carolina for technical assistance that includes buildings, microgrids, rates/tariffs, renewable energy potential, storage, transportation, and hydropower]

It's designed to work with communities for about 18 to 24 months. And this can include energy planning and/or in-depth technical assistance. And we'll discuss those different options in more detail shortly. Today, ETIPP has worked with communities exploring 21 different types of renewable technologies and energy solutions.

Our first 32 communities have been and are working on projects that explore solutions such as developing microgrids for island communities, seeking paths to carbon-free commercial fishing, understanding options for integrating electric vehicles, and improving renewable energy generation and storage to reduce reliance on diesel fuel.

Two Technical Assistance Tracks

This year, this is a text-heavy slide. So hopefully you can follow along with just my talk over. ETIPP is going to begin offering two tracks for technical assistance this year. One path is going to be for energy planning, and then another for engaging in specific energy solutions.

If an applicant has an existing—excuse me—existing strategic energy plan or similar strategy already in place or they have a well-defined energy project that has community leadership support, then they would be driven into track 2, which is about 12 to 18 months of in-depth technical assistance based on the project or projects defined in the application.

If an applicant does not have a strategic energy plan in place and needs help defining a project or projects for technical assistance, then they would participate in track 1. So track 1 entails about 4 to 6 months of energy planning with community leaders, community energy team, and members, as well as other stakeholders that will be critical to defining those goals and objectives.

At the conclusion of the energy planning phase, the applicant would then receive an additional 8 to 12 months of in-depth technical assistance on one or more of the top priority projects identified in the energy plan. So the goal is that applicants in track 1 would complete the energy planning phase with a fully developed energy plan for the community, and then would receive technical assistance to advance the next steps of the priority project or projects within the energy plan.

ETIPP Direct Financial Assistance

Another new element to ETIPP this year is that for the first time, the program will award up to $50,000 to each community selected for the cohort. These funds can be used by communities to support ETIPP technical assistance planning and implementation and activities, and purchases undertaken with these funds is entirely up to the discretion of the community, and we hope that this change will be a welcome element of ETIPP technical assistance going forward.

It doesn't matter whether you're new to energy planning or are already deep into an energy transition plan. We can help you wherever you are in that process. ETIPP can help you figure out which questions you need to get answered, help you explore viable clean energy options, or pursue the energy technologies or efficiencies you've already identified for yourself and need to push forward.

ETIPP Application Process

I will briefly review the ETIPP application process, timeline, and scoping. And then we'll drive right into our community presentations. So applications for our fourth cohort of communities opened on April 10. And they are going to remain open until July 10 at midnight Mountain Time. Before applying, communities must meet one-on-one with a regional partner or a referred point of contact through NREL.

Although you may get your questions answered today, we do encourage you to set up a private meeting with the regional partner that represents your area. And if there isn't a regional partner designated for your area yet, please send an email to to get connected with a regional lead at NREL who can help answer your questions and/or connect you to the right person.

Communities can then submit applications either digitally through the form on NREL's website or by filling out a PDF and sending it by email or postal mail. In addition to the application, communities must have two stakeholder support forms submitted on their behalf. Your regional partners can share more information about what types of organizations would be appropriate to submit these support forms, but they should include decision makers outside your organization whose support is important for your project's success.

All of this information is available on the ETIPP application page on NREL's website. And for the first time this year, we are offering application materials in both English and Spanish. Here's a brief look at the timeline for ETIPP projects. The scoping process itself can take between 3 and 6 months and we're going to spend a little bit more time talking about that in the next section.

ETIPP Scoping

So you may be wondering how detailed of a plan your community needs to have when applying into ETIPP. It's OK if you're new to energy transitions. You don't have to know exactly which technologies or pathways you want to pursue. ETIPP can help you explore the various options in front of you. What's important is that you have a firm understanding of your goals and what you as a community want to achieve through this technical assistance or as an end goal in the future.

ETIPP is community-driven, which means you are going to be in the driver's seat and will play an active role in deciding which course you want to take. Our national lab experts can do the critical research to help you understand which options are best suited to your goals. But ultimately, you will have the decision-making power. This is why it's important to have other decision makers vested in your ETIPP participation upfront.

They will likely impact how effectively you can execute your plan. Refining your goals is built into the ETIPP process. In fact, that's why we spend the first few months with you scoping your proposed project to make sure you're off to a solid start. If your community is just beginning to think and plan around your energy goals and projects, then you may be a good fit for the energy planning track. Communities in this track, again, will spend about 4 to 6 months developing a community energy plan.

The ETIPP team will work with community leaders, decision makers, the public, and other stakeholders to identify an approved energy vision, goals, and projects. At the end of the energy planning phase, the community will have a final energy plan that will feed directly into a scope of work for about 8 to 12 months of technical assistance on one or more of the priority projects identified in the energy plan.

Awarded communities that have already developed an energy or similar plan or have well-defined energy projects already identified will spend about 2 to 6 months working with regional partners, regional leads, and technical leads to scope out their projects for in-depth technical assistance. Communities in either track should expect to participate in regular meetings, ranging from weekly to about two times a month to discuss community priorities, finalize project proposals, and support technical assistance planning.

And again, this is just during the scoping process. Participation in these meetings can take between 8 to 12 hours of your time. Sometimes more, sometimes less. And will require some time outside of meetings to review scope to ensure it aligns with your goals and expectations. After the scoping phase, communities in the technical assistance track will work with TA providers at the national labs to implement the project for 12 to 18 months.

Applicants should consider whether their proposals are feasible within this time frame. And regional partners can certainly help you set goals that are realistic based on these time constraints. Without further ado, we have three representatives from ETIPP communities in our second and third cohorts who are here to talk briefly about their experiences in the program.

ETIPP Community Speakers

First up, we have CP Smith. Executive Director of Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de La Montaña in Puerto Rico, which is part of ETIPP's second cohort. And CP, if you are on. I'm going to—

Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de La Montaña, Puerto Rico

>>CP Smith: I'm going to do an audio check here. Can you hear me fine?

>>Tessa Greco: I can hear you great.

>>CP Smith: OK. So the first thing I'll kick off with is that I hope anybody that's joined us today that's evaluating this considers this opportunity a no-brainer, in the sense that this is such a valuable resource, and it has been for our organization to have that level of technical assistance to actually look at your problem and come up with a solution that will help advance your issues, I think, is exactly what everybody needs.

And what I like also is that the program continues to improve. The added addition of $50,000 plus a different track path, I consider those both to be fantastic improvements onto our cohort that I could imagine helping out other communities and organizations. While I got to listen to Tessa, I was reflecting on the ETIPP conference that we went to. And I have to say it is absolutely amazing, including the next presenters that are coming up as well. It is absolutely amazing. All of the communities and how there are commonalities that we all share as part of this program.

But there's also very striking differences that I was truly impressed with the colleagues that were in our cohorts and the cohort before on what they are doing for their communities. So in essence, La Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica Montaña is Puerto Rico's first electric cooperative. We requested ETIPP and very, very thankful that we were selected for ETIPP.

And we have three principal projects, Hidroenergía Renace, which is Hydro Energy Reborn. We have ReEnFoCo, which translates to community resilience through photovoltaics. Those are two extremes of a chain of resiliency that we have. But the ETIPP application that we requested was to support Microrred de la Montaña, Micro Grid of the Mountain.

And that project is envisioned as improvements to or putting in—it would be eventually the installation of a new 38 kV substation, new 38 kilovolt lines to strengthen the local area. And it also creates a resiliency ring that would join four municipalities together. And that, in combination with grid-scale batteries, all of that together creates a fantastic addition to our resiliency chain and strengthens both programs actually.

When we stepped in, it was a concept we knew we needed to add this, but that level of knowledge for a community organization was well, well, well beyond our expertise. What we had organically—so we were basically presenting a vision and a problem set.

And thanks to the ETIPP program, we were able to get through a preliminary design, a one-line diagram continuing on with that analysis study that even showed, for example, after Hurricane Fiona, that we could have run hydroelectric plants full open for 48 hours and not had any negative impact on water availability.

And that's important because these reservoirs that are behind this dam that you might see here have lost 76% of their capacity. Other problems that—the issue is that they brought world-level engineers and scientists to look at our problem through our lens, and then provide us with a solution that we needed. And that's enabled us to move forward with proposals, including with the Departamento de la Vivienda. There's an ER2 program in Puerto Rico. And so we've submitted two applications.

These are complex. These are heavy lifts for our organizations. And because of the technical know-how and expertise that was shared, we have what I think are two very competitive applications in on behalf of four municipalities that represent about 90,000 people in this region of Puerto Rico. And you can see from the image that's being shared, the mountainous region that we're in, these are communities that with oftentimes one road coming in and out, and when there is a landslide or any other kind of problem, communities just simply get isolated.

And that's part of the reasons why we're doing this. Our scoping process was truly collaborative. Again, very happy and impressed with the team that ETIPP, basically, handed us. And first of all, I have to say, overall, when I think about the team that we worked with, I was always so impressed with how respectful they were about really understanding our needs, what we were looking for as a vision, and buying into it.

I really, really felt everybody that touched our program believes in our project as much as we do. And when you have that kind of skill set, an ally come on board to help you. You just really think that everything is possible. And I think that's important for communities that we all share. That we're all coming from. These are often communities that are last of line communities that are very remote, communities that we know that have to have the resiliency organic to your community.

And for them to appreciate and buy into our project, I think, was of immense, not just technical support, but also moral support in development of our project. One of the things that I think that would have been very helpful to know when we stepped into this, we anticipated some of it. But as you move into these projects, these projects generate work that has to happen at the community level.

Now, I think they've gone a long way to helping—the ETIPP program has gone a long way by providing that 50k. But when we did our cohort, we didn't have any of that financial support. So the program, even though it provided technical assistance at that point, it also was a cost to us. A cost when we are very few funds, we're a small community organization that's still pretty much toddling around in diapers, if you will. Making incremental progress in our projects.

But I mean, that also really speaks to the leadership of the ETIPP program that recognizing the impact that that had on our cohort, they actually took the initiative to advocate. And now for this next cohort coming up, 50k. I do invite them to consider that retroactively as just an idea. But if that's not possible, then certainly, I'm happy for the next cohort.

And then as we use these outcomes from the ETIPP program, we are continuing with proposal building. And includes the next phase, where we hope to continue our efforts in fine-tuning those designs. Because as you get closer and closer to making a higher quality design, more and more entities take an interest in helping out. And that's where I think ETIPP really helps us out.

So don't delay in your application. It takes a little while to do the ETIPP application. But it really is fantastic. And I encourage everybody to complete the application in time and then join your cohort. I think you'll be very pleased and impressed with your other colleagues in the cohort, and then also what you'll receive as a benefit. Thank you very much.

>>Tessa Greco: Excellent. Thank you, CP, so much for your comments, for your time, and absolutely hear you. And we'll keep doing what we can to do good things.

>>CP Smith: Yeah. Don't stress. It's a great program, and I do really think that everybody should—if they have the ability to do it, apply. And then let great things happen. But you've been doing great, and so is the team. I applaud all of you.

>>Tessa Greco: Thank you so much. Really appreciate you. Next, we'll hear from Jon Salmon, a representative from the Igiugig Village Council in Igiugig, Alaska. Another cohort 2 community. So let me see if I can advance. There we go.

Igiugig, Alaska

>>Jonathan Salmon: OK. Good morning. And you must get so tired of praise, but I would also like to thank the entire ETIPP team. Just immense work. Great. And I would also like to thank those from Igiugig that have done a lot of the work before me. I moved back in 2019 and jumped into this. But there was a lot of lifting, and there was a lot of lifting when I was still very young.

And this was just a great opportunity. So thank you so much. But as you said, we're a tribe, and we're in southwest Alaska. And it started off, like I said, before me. But in 2022, we adopted our comprehensive energy plan, which was produced by NREL Deer Stone Igiugig Village Council. I'll refer to it as IVC and Homer Energy. And it was funded by the Water Power Technologies Office.

And our project is called Igiugig Renewable Energy Integration because we have all these different structures moving and we were going towards clean energy. And we knew that we wanted onto our system, and we're not quite sure exactly what we were going to use or how it was going to be implemented. But the partnership with ORPC had already started, and thus we had hydrokinetic devices in the river. And that's an ongoing project.

But this comprehensive energy plan gave us a detailed map that we went to a community meeting with. And with 100% consensus, we passed a goal to reduce diesel fuel consumption for electrical production by 50% by 2030. And it is a big tongue twister. And it did not fit inside our project name slot. But it became like that because we weren't ready to tackle, we are not ready to tackle diesel fuel for reducing heating fuel yet.

But with such a lofty goal and a nicely laid out plan, we are going to definitely require further technical assistance. As you can see here, we have a start and an end. And we needed a lot of help in the middle. The scoping of our project started—it was already laid out. But we needed to prioritize and assess what was currently feasible with the staff that we had on hand.

And we jumped into our initial scoping. And our initial scoping involved our IVC's vice president, our generator operator, and our water plant operator, as well as myself. And I put assistant director down on our application. Other times, I just use operator for various projects that I'm working on. But really, I'm an assistant director and maintenance.

So we moved on, and we didn't require these folks at every weekly meeting. But we pulled them in when it was necessary and to make sure we're all on the same track. And I think one of the big benefits of our small community or just a tight knit community is that we're all on different texting groups. So it was nice to already have a platform that we are collaborating on to be able to quickly get ideas.

And I do think that would be nice to set up beforehand. Or just think of it when you do your application, and keep in mind that the scoping is very fluid. So you don't have to be alarmed when you take 90s and sometimes 180s. And I was told by a previous cohort to trust the process. And now I always say, trust the process. It is longer than you imagined, but it's so helpful.

And it also helps identify action items. Sometimes, we come up with an issue in our scoping, and it's not actually a project to work towards. It's already an action item. And it's helpful for outside technical support to be able to point that out because sometimes you get so tied up inside your inner workings that you can't see that it already is an action item.

If there's a water leak, then the action item is to go and fix the water leak. And it doesn't need an analysis of how much energy it's going to save. So you can see here various project tasks that were completed. The renewable heating scenario was really large. We had moved forward— because of that's how the funding arrived in Igiugig, we had moved forward with hydrokinetic devices and the battery energy storage system without a backup heating option for our buildings that were heated by the generators.

The generators produce a lot of heat, the marine engines. That heat was piped into nearby buildings, as well as keeping the generator building warm. And now when the generators are off, which is our goal, we didn't have a way, we didn't have a plan to heat these buildings in the interim other than throwing more diesel at them, which is backwards of our goals.

We had monitor equipment that was provided by NREL. And while I don't necessarily understand everything I'm looking at all the time, they have people that are beyond our dreams of what they can understand or interpolate. So that was amazing. And we also had a site visit. Levi Kilcher and Kumar from NREL came here on site. And I do think that it's always—it's nice for myself, in my opinion, to be able to put boots on the ground, because that's the best way to understand it.

We did have a high energy use building. And even though I've looked at the same breakers, and I know others have looked at these breakers, again, it just took an outside resource and Levi looked at a breaker. And he says, this breaker is on, and I said, the switch is off. But it turned out the switch had failed, and we were just pumping out heat into a heat tape under the ground this entire time. So it's just little nuances like that that are amazing, and the savings add up.

The Schneider best, we do have our best that had mentioned there. That is an extremely long financial time drag currently. And it's been very helpful to have the homer models and NREL support to be able to go through them and to understand how to best utilize renewable energy and how renewable energy would work on our grid and how much excess we would have and how much the heating load for the heat HRS would use. And how to best use that because, of course, if we moved on to solar, we'll have a bunch of excess in the summertime when the heating loads are lower.

And I guess my recommendations are just to have the communication skills with your teammates, your team members. And you don't necessarily need to have the technical background because I certainly didn't. And it would have been nice to have a full-time energy operator. We don't, it's just capacity. We have an operator that works two hours a day, and I'm on an as-needed basis.

And I always enjoy photos of our community. Just to put things in perspective. There's a beautiful photo of the lake that flows down the Kvichak River and turns the hydrokinetic devices when they function. And some of our largest loads, the school, and there's a large hangar here. And then just how fuel-heavy we are. There's several fuel tanks there, 130,000 gallon fuel tanks behind the generator plant.

There's a backup generator parked out in front there currently because we're setting up another backup option for generators to be able to put a outside generator online. And then you could see the battery. Can you go to the next slide? I think I took a photo of the battery. Yeah. There's the battery energy storage system in the generator yard. And marine John Deere generators, they're all 65 kW. And the switchgear was upgraded during our projects here. And again, I'm so thankful for all of the support that we had throughout the process here and the relationships that we form.

>>Tessa Greco: Thank you so much, Jon. Really appreciate your insights and overview of the experience that you've had within ETIPP and beyond thus far. So thank you so much for your time. Just appreciate it.

>>Jonathan Salmon: And sorry. With all the modeling that we did, what it really did Igiugig was is a strong platform to move forward to receive the funding to move forward with our action items. So we moved through all the steps, and now we have clear defined action items to move forward with. And as well as costs associated with them, so that we're able to take vetted information on our applications. And it makes them so strong it makes me feel very hopeful. And, I guess, it makes me feel like our funding is a definite thing in the future.

>>Tessa Greco: That's wonderful news and absolutely a discrete goal of every effort that we undertake within ETIPP, if we can set a community up so that those goals and objectives are defined and pathways for to identify additional funding, grants, or technical assistance. Whatever is needed, that's the perfect end. So thank you so much for your thoughts.

We are going to move on to our final community representative. We're going to hear from John Warfel from Block Island, Rhode Island, a community in our third cohort. So John, I'll pass it over to you. We are running just slightly behind on time. So if you can limit your comments to about three to five minutes, that would be great.

Block Island, Rhode Island

>>John Warfel: OK. My name is John Warfel. And I'm on the board of Block Island Utility District, which is an organization that applied for this grant. So that's a co-op as well. My wife and I have lived on Block Island since 1981. And to us, it's not a summer destination, it's home. So Block Island is a small 3.5-by-7-mile island about 14 miles off the coast of Rhode Island. And is accessible by ferry about 1 hour ride or by plane, which is about a 15-minute sometimes terrifying ride. Bad weather can cancel both the plane and the ferry for maybe 2 to 3 days. So we have a year-round population of about 1,000. And that has remained pretty steady. But in the summer the population can swell to 10,000 to 20,000, which includes day trippers and boaters.

This puts us in a position where we have a much larger electrical load in the summer than off season. So it means our load profile is such that it's expensive to buy wholesale power. About 10 years ago, the town bought the Block Island Power Company which was privately owned. And if you were on the island grid, you bought your power from Block Island Power. And all the electricity was supplied by diesel generators. And about the same time, as part of the Deep Water Wind Project, that was the first offshore wind power in the United States, transmission cable was run from the wind firm to Block Island and then to mainland Rhode Island. And for the first time, the generators could be turned off. This was really a game changer for us.

In addition, a utility cooperative was formed, and Block Island Utility District purchased the power company from the town. This was a long and tortuous process, and the vote was very close. So now we have generators off, we're connected to the mainland grid. And now we're a co-op with so many problems to solve and choices to make.

I heard about the ETIPP program and their mission of energy resilience for island communities. I brought this to the board's attention, and we thought it would be a great opportunity for much needed technical assistance. We don't have the staff expertise or funds to do it ourselves just like most other small organizations.

We applied for the grant, and the application was very doable. So if you are thinking about applying, go through the application questions. It won't take long to compile the requested information. The challenge is condensing your answers to fit into the allotted 250-word box. So on to the task of energy resilience.

It's true that different communities have different needs, but usually, the needs are greater than the resources available. And this is where the scoping process comes to play. The first task is to define what you want technical assistance for. And you end up with a big list of needs that has to be whittled down and focused.

This is where the ETIPP team is a big help. We had a meeting every two weeks, and in a few months, we had a couple of options as far as direction. The ETIPP team has the experience to know what can be done within the budgeted allotment for TA study. Everyone's scoping process will be different, but you want to make sure you supply the ETIPP team with what they need to do their job. It's really a data-driven process.

The ETIPP process is big on being inclusive and fostering community engagement. And our situation, getting community engagement is challenging. And in addition, there's a lot of misinformation floating around about where and how we get our power. The ETIPP team put on a 2-hour community presentation on how our grid works. And the challenges as well as the benefits of incorporating more renewable energy into our grid.

Some of the problems that we're wrestling with are how much power can we reasonably produce on island? Presently, our cable transmission costs are almost as much as our power costs. So can we save money and also improve resilience? Energy storage. What makes sense in our situation and low profile. We can't back feed into the cable, which would allow excess renewable energy to flow to the mainland. So this is a big problem for us.

What can we do to promote and prepare for electric vehicles? Does a community solar project make sense? And what happens if the cable goes down for an extended time? At this point, we have fuel on hand for about a week. And after that, we'll be out of power. So if the ferries aren't running, we're in big trouble. Our power costs also will dramatically increase by using the diesel generators.

In the final stages of the scoping process, the board felt we should make the final determination on what was the most useful direction to go for the TA study. Our responsibility is to our members, and all the members are part of the community. We decided the first logical step for us was to develop an energy roadmap to 2040.

With this information, we can move forward, deal with sea level rise. This includes investigating the feasibility of community solar projects that would support both our low and moderate income residents. We plan to use this study to make informed decisions concerning energy resilience. For us, it's like everything else, knowledge is power. Thank you.

>>Tessa Greco: Thank you so much, John. Really appreciate your comments and insight. That was a great overview of the ETIPP scoping process. What you experience, and it was great to hear about Block Island's goals for the longer range future up to 2040. At this point, we have a few minutes to take any questions that folks might have. Sarah, it sounds like we have a couple of questions in the Q&A?


>>Sarah Meehan: Yep. Just a couple in there so far. The first one. How are the proposed projects ranked for funding awards? Many of the current technologies are not truly fossil fuel-free such as the solar panels and batteries because of the mining that is required to get the metals needed such as aluminum and lithium. Will vertical axis turbines on structures that have an inverter be given a higher ranking than a system with batteries? Pretty technical.

>>Tessa Greco: Yeah. Quite technical. And I would recommend we have discrete evaluation metrics and criteria within the application. So I just encourage everyone to go and take a look at those criteria and what you'll be measured against. So the evaluation team will be reviewing all concepts to those criteria certainly without consideration for specific efficiency storage or renewable technologies proposed. I hope that's helpful, though not directly answering that question. And I'm happy to follow up afterward, if there's some follow up needed.

>>Sarah Meehan: Thanks, Tessa. The next one, we've got one in the chat, and then one specifically for Jon Salmon. So in the chat, we will likely have the option to apply with either our city as the applicant or a local conservation nonprofit playing that role. Would you have feedback on which approach may be preferred?

>>Tessa Greco: I think it's really up to you all to decide. I did mention the capacity needed, the time needed participating in ETIPP technical assistance. So that may be a critical question to ask yourselves, which organization either at the city level or an NGO or community association level might have the capacity and availability to tow the technical assistance forward.

That would be one critical question. Another is receipt of funding. These are very logistical questions to ask yourselves, but who would be the better organization to receive and distribute funds, received as part of the technical assistance. So yeah. It's more tactical questions to ask yourselves. But as far as which organization will be weighted more favorably or reviewed more favorably in the ETIPP review process, that would not come into play.

>>Sarah Meehan: Great. Thanks, Tessa. We have more and more questions coming in. And just a reminder that you will be able to ask the regional partners in your breakout rooms questions as well. So if we don't get to them, fear not. We will answer them either here or in the breakout room. But there was a question for Jon Salmon: How did the ETIPP consultants or HOMER make sure all the various renewable energy sources and traditional energy generating were compatible for maximum efficiency of the grid?

>>Jonathan Salmon: Yeah. Thanks. That sounds like a deep technical question that I would forward on to an NREL team.


No. It was great because we have a lot of things that changed all at once. We have switchgear upgrades, we installed the best. At the time, we had some generators down and we brought on RIB Gens, as well as we had standing wind turbines skystream so that there are only two that work in the community as well as a few solar panels that are residential and one of the skystreams are residential.

And we've tried VAWT, vertical axis wind turbines. So it was not so much of a question of whether it would work. It became a big question of what are the things that we've done and what was done incorrectly and to analyze those. And to move forward and not make these same mistakes again so that we're not currently standing with a battery that can't hold a grid yet. If that makes sense. We moved forward so fast with renewable energies that we didn't vet anything.

>>Sarah Meehan: Thanks, Jon. One more question: Are there restrictions on which stakeholders could receive portions of the 50k funding?

>>Tessa Greco: Yeah. So we only ask that whoever the receiving organization is, first, it matches our eligibility criteria that are outlined in the application on our website. So review those first. Second, that the organization on the application matches whoever is requesting the funds once they're distributed. So those organizations have to match beyond that once the funds are received within the community. It is, again, up to you all to decide how you want to distribute those funds to contributing organizations on your decision making team or on the ETIPP technical assistance team. Whether you want to use those funds for purchases to support the planning and implementation of your technical assistance. So again, it's really up to your discretion how you use those funds, once they're received within the community.

We do have about five minutes left, which I fear is far too little to go into breakout rooms and have meaningful discussions. So I think I'm going to make the executive decision to cut off the opportunity for breakout rooms, but do encourage everyone to follow up either via email, visit the website, find your regional partner and reach out afterwards.

If, again, you have any difficulty finding a regional partner or are not in a region, rather, without a dedicated regional partner at this time, please reach out to, and we will be able to field your questions and point you in the right direction as far as support for application development. Sarah, are there any other questions that came in through the chat or Q&A?

>>Sarah Meehan: Yep. We've got a few: What value do the other federal grant agencies/offices place on the ETIPP community planning report?

>>Tessa Greco: That's a great question. And I think there's some proof in perhaps not credit to the ETIPP technical assistance or planning process, but credit to the general planning and then pathway or roadmap development for additional support and funding that is really developed as part of ETIPP. There are a number of communities. You've heard from a few of them today that have been very successful in following up and securing additional technical assistance support, additional funding or grant funding for their respective projects within their community. And certainly, there is a lot of work that occurred before ETIPP and a lot of work that's occurring concurrent and after ETIPP. But ETIPP technical assistance itself helps formulate and identify those discrete follow-on pathways.

So I don't know if that answered the question directly. But again, I think we're starting to see some early successes around follow-on support after ETIPP technical assistance, which is exactly what we would like to see.

>>Sarah Meehan: Thanks, Tessa. We've got time for just a couple more. So we have: The Nushagak Electric and Telephone Cooperative, NETC, is involved in ETIPP for the Nuyakuk River Hydro. How or what needs to happen for an existing ETIPP recipient to access the 50k community involvement funding?

>>Tessa Greco: That's a great question. Unfortunately, there is not an obvious mechanism at this time to retroactively provide funding to our cohorts 1, 2, and 3 communities. We will certainly keep working with DOE to identify if there is potential for providing retroactive direct cash awards to those communities. But at this time, I cannot say.

>>Sarah Meehan: All right. And one more: Can we meet again? Great learning experience today, and would like to hear more from other communities.

>>Tessa Greco: That's great. Yes, I would like to say, optimistically. No, I think that's a great question and point. Please reach out to the email address to learn more, figure out other ways to connect. And certainly, reach out to our regional partners. And I'm sure they will be happy to relay their own experiences within ETIPP and the communities that they've helped support as well.

>>Sarah Meehan: I think that's all we've got.

>>Tessa Greco: Great. We have just a minute—not even a minute to spare. We're right on time. All right, everyone. Thank you so much for joining today. We really appreciate your participation and interest in ETIPP. We hope to hear from you and hope to receive applications from many of you. Again, if you have questions, reach out. We're happy to help support any inquiries or application help. So thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your day.

[End of webinar]