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State of New Jersey Hazard Mitigation Grant Program

The Christie Administration recently announced the allocation of $13 million in federal Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funding to provide grants to local governments statewide to support energy resilience at critical lifeline and life safety facilities. This initiative builds upon the Administration's efforts in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to enhance energy resilience at critical infrastructure throughout New Jersey.

The State previously established the $25 million HMGP Energy Allocation Initiative to support back-up power and alternative energy solutions for local governments to enhance energy resilience. Due to the overwhelming demand for this program and the availability of additional HMGP funding, the State targeted an additional $13 million in HMGP funds to support the new "Lifeline / Life Safety Program" to fund additional local energy projects at critical facilities.

The two programs are expected to fund 337 county and municipal energy resilience projects statewide. These grants are intended to fund alternative forms of energy technology at qualifying facilities throughout the State, including life safety facilities like police and fire stations, shelters, emergency operations centers, and lifeline facilities like water supply and wastewater treatment plants - many of which showed vulnerabilities exploited by Sandy. Grants range from $10,000 to $250,000, and are based on objective scoring criteria.

As described in The Superstorm Sandy Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery Action Plan , critical facilities must have access to highly reliable and resilient energy in order to function. These grants can be used to increase resilience by critical facilities.

Awardees

Communities across the State have recognized the importance of energy resilience in the long-term recovery process. This HMGP Energy program evaluated over 1340 individual requests for funding, ranging from $2500 - $65,000,000. Requests were submitted from jurisdictions in all 21 counties with many jurisdictions submitting multiple projects.

Project types varied widely, ranging from those as simple as a portable generator to be used for traffic signals to combined heat and power projects at a wastewater treatment facility. Most requests were from drinking water and wastewater facilities, for energy projects at pump stations, treatment facilities and drinking water wells. Second were the requests for generators to support shelters. Requests to support fire departments and public works facilities followed.

HMGP awardees consisted of two groups; A. Energy Resilience grants; and, B. Lifeline and Life Safety Grants. A list of the types of projects that are considered lifeline and life safety projects is contained in the process summary. Awardees represented all 21 counties, receiving almost $38 Million in funding to various energy projects.

Jurisdictions may obtain their individual project scores upon request by contacting the Office of Emergency Management or by phoning (609) 963-6900 x 6208, NJOEM Hazard Mitigation Unit.

Scoring Process

The State announced the HMGP Energy Allocation Initiative in October 2013. The program resulted from months of studying the storm impacts to the State's energy infrastructure by a cross-agency group of State agencies, supported by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Response from local governments was overwhelming, with over $469 million in requests for an initial available funding pool of just $25 million. After the initial allocation notifications were announced in October, the State performed a comprehensive quality assurance and quality control review of all data points utilized in the scoring process in advance of submitting applications to FEMA for funding.

Scoring criteria included: population size and density, millions of gallons per day of flow or population served for water and wastewater systems, participation in the National Flood Insurance Program and BPU's Local Energy Audit program, criticality of infrastructure as determined by the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness state asset database, and FEMA Public Assistance data.

A detailed summary of the entire process was prepared that outlines the original scoring processes, the quality control review, the project scoring criteria and the determination of award amounts.

Allocation Process

OEM will contact applicants to discuss existing spending plans. Where necessary, revised spending plans may be necessary to address other funding opportunities a jurisdiction may have; ex. A County may consider revising a spending plan to align to other funding sources.

The only projects that can be funded are those that are contained on a list of permissible uses for Program funds. Projects will also need to meet FEMA requirements, including a benefit-cost analysis. The permissible use list includes feasibility studies for distributed energy resources, off-grid inverters, and other technology that is historically more resilient than traditional generators, may be cleaner, and can lead to energy cost savings for your jurisdiction or facility.

The funding allocated under this Program may not necessarily fund complete projects - but can serve as seed money, allowing jurisdictions or entities to consider ambitious and meaningful energy projects that can lead to enhanced resilience and potential monthly energy savings, including planning studies for distributed generation and microgrid projects. Such projects may be eligible for significant funding or financing opportunities through the New Jersey Energy Resiliency Bank. Alternatively, communities can use program funding toward the purchase of an emergency generator or generators.

As part of the Program, the State will make technical resources available to assist in selecting the right energy technology. Please contact DER@njcleanenergy.com with any questions you might have regarding technologies included on the enclosed Permissible Use list.

Useful Tools

Further information on new alternative technologies, including combined heat and power and Solar, and technical resources can be found on the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's, Sustainability and Green Energy website. Additional incentives and technical support can be found on New Jersey's Clean Energy Program or by emailing DER@njcleanenergy.com.

Energy Resilience Bank

In addition to the Energy Allocation Program, a jurisdiction or entity may be eligible for funding through the New Jersey Energy Resilience Bank, - a first-of-its-kind Bank that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently approved as part of the State's Disaster Recovery Action Plan. Eligibility depends on the type of project pursued.

Eligibility will be determined through a separate, open application process, consistent with the criteria specified in the Action Plan. Further information on the Energy Resilience Bank can be found in the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs "Superstorm Sandy Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery Action Plan."

FAQs

Scoring Process
1. How was the list of potential applicants for the Energy Allocation and Lifeline Grant programs developed?
The pool of eligible applicants is based on Letters of Intents (LOIs) submitted in December 2012 and January 2013 in response to a general request by NJOEM for local hazard mitigation projects that included elevations, acquisitions, energy, etc. In an effort to understand needs, requests were not rejected or restricted.

2. Why was the method to determine funding amounts changed from the initial allocation?
Given the large number of projects submitted and the obvious unmet need that resulted, the Round 1 allocation method (project-cap point based) proved ineffective to meet the goals of the program. For example, it resulted in large allocation inequities where a single awardee would receive 12 times the average allocation. Therefore, an applicant-cap based on population was developed. This enabled a more equitable allocation of the $25M across awardees.

3. Why was a supplemental program developed?
As the amount of unmet need for the state's public sector critical infrastructure was only partially met through the $25M program, it was determined that a critical lifeline and life safety program would be funded with an additional $13M of HMGP funds. This resulted in awards to an additional 197 jurisdictions.

4. How can I verify the data used to score my projects?
Questions by applicants on their individual scores should be directed to the Office of Emergency Management.

Next Steps
1. Is this an award letter?
No, this is a letter notifying you that you have been selected by the State to participate in the Energy Program. You will not have an award until you hav e an approved application by FEMA and a FEMA award letter.

2. When can I start?
You cannot start the project until you have a FEMA award letter.

3. When can I buy the generator?
You cannot buy the generator until you have a FEMA approval letter.

4. How long do we have to complete the project?
You have two years from the date of the FEMA award letter to complete your project.

5. Are the costs that I put into the application eligible for reimbursement?
Yes, pre-award costs are eligible expenses to get reimbursed.

6. Can I get the money up front?
No, this is a reimbursement grant program. You need to complete the work and submit copies of invoices and receipts to OEM, then OEM reimburses you.

7. What is the application process?
Your Letter of Intent (LOI) was not an application. You now need to begin an application in NJemgrants.org to submit to the State in order to have a FEMA eligible project.

8. Is there a match?
There is no required match. You can choose to put more money toward your project, but you do not have to match what you receive from NJOEM.

9. What is the energy bank and how does it apply to me?
Information on the Energy Bank is available in the "Superstorm Sandy Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery Action Plan"

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