But the investment required to build a more resilient power grid is considerable. That’s why a public-private partnership is recommended—this way, not all the funding is coming from the government or the utility rate base, but instead is pulled together through a variety of public and private sources to increase the benefits of the solution and provide an even greater return on investment for the public. A major benefit to a public-private partnership that includes FEMA BRIC funding—especially as we reflect on the damage caused by Tropical Storm Isaias and prepare for the extreme weather ahead—is that it allows communities to achieve true resilience sooner than they would be able to if they were relying solely on the utility rate base to afford it. Rates that don’t have to rise to address resilience measures but instead are supported by federal funding build resilience and hold down the long-term costs of generation and distribution. Also, projects that are funded through these combined efforts have greater long-term resilience to future disasters—which reduces administrative burdens, economic challenges, and higher taxes to pay for reconstruction. A true win-win with a positive return on investment.
Crafting a FEMA BRIC application that shows co-investment
The rise in extreme weather has shown the need to think big when it comes to infrastructure resilience. FEMA BRIC is designed to support ambitious projects that protect Community Lifelines—but first you need to create a compelling project application and get it accepted.
While privately-owned utilities are not eligible to directly apply for FEMA BRIC funding, they can work with their local governments in partnership to submit applications for this competitive grant program. FEMA provides a scoring points incentive for applications that feature this kind of collaboration and co-investment. With ICF’s expertise in FEMA and other federal programs such as CBDG-Mitigation, we can assist utilities and work with local communities to build partnerships to achieve the objectives set forth by FEMA’s BRIC Program. We can help develop strong mitigation and resilience opportunities for the utility industry that will support the Community Lifelines in future events.
When utility stakeholders work collaboratively with state and local governments to create applications that show co-investment, the result is well worth the effort. What Isaias has shown is that if it’s only left to one entity to solve the problem, it won’t get done. Working together, state and local governments and utilities can take advantage of FEMA BRIC to protect their Community Lifelines and build a more resilient future.