(Camden, NJ) – Camden County will be the first jurisdiction in the state of New Jersey to employ a micro-grid to power key institutions and facilities. To achieve this objective the county was the second winner of the Environmental Impact Bond Challenge, an innovative program funded by The Rockefeller Foundation which is empowering cities to improve community resilience.
The opportunity afforded by the award will allow the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority (CCMUA) to pioneer an innovative financing strategy for an extension of a planned microgrid to critical infrastructure in the City of Camden. The microgrid will help protect the citizens of Camden from power outages in the case of storms, flooding, or other emergencies.
“This is a first-of-its kind technological achievement that will bring enormous benefits to the City of Camden and the county,” said Freeholder Jeff Nash, liaison to the CCMUA. “Never before in our state has there been a resilient off-the-grid source of renewable energy like this. Because of this project, parts of the city that are currently without critical backup infrastructure will now be able to have clean, renewable energy during times of crisis.”
The CCMUA will work with the impact investment intermediary firm Quantified Ventures to structure and issue an Environmental Impact Bond (EIB) to finance the project. This type of innovative financing ties repayment of the bond to the successful achievement of measurable resilience benefits that the microgrid will deliver to vulnerable facilities and communities in Camden.
CCMUA is the second winner of the Environmental Impact Bond Challenge supported by The Rockefeller Foundation, following the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management (DWM), which will issue an EIB in early 2019 to finance green infrastructure projects in Atlanta’s Westside. CCMUA’s EIB will be the first investment of its kind in the nation to support an energy or power project.
Camden is increasingly prone to major storm events as exemplified by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, and critical facilities such as hospitals lack access to sources of backup power in the event of long-term outages. In order to provide that necessary power source, CCMUA has initiated plans to create a microgrid which connects the CCMUA’s main wastewater treatment plant to a waste-to-energy plant owned by Covanta, Inc. The EIB will fill an existing capital gap to extend the underground microgrid into the City of Camden, providing hospitals, schools, police, fire, or other critical facilities with a backup, and potentially main, source of power.
“What this does is take a reliable source of clean, renewable energy and transfer it to the City of Camden where it can be used to support the critical infrastructure that exists here,” said Andy Kricun, executive director of the CCMUA. “With the model that’s being put in place, CCMUA is going to be able to finance the project responsibly by minimizing its risk. This is going to set a standard for how the rest of the country goes about financing similar projects in the future.”
Nash also spoke about what the project means to Camden’s resurgence in the region.
“This is another case where people from across the state and from across the country are going to be coming to the City of Camden to learn how to improve their infrastructure and how to prepare for the economy of the future,” Nash continued. “Just as we’ve seen with businesses investing billions of dollars here, and the success of the Eds and Meds corridor, Camden is once again a place where major innovation is taking place.”
The project also has support from the federal government and Congressman Donald Norcross as it moves forward.
“We’ve seen tremendous job growth in Camden, along with major improvements to city schools, parks and public safety – and now we’re bringing home a clean-energy investment that will make our city even more resilient,” Norcross said. “As a former electrician, I’ve long-been pushing my colleagues to focus on and invest in American infrastructure projects, specifically involving our Grid. This opportunity to have a new renewable energy source in Camden will help our local economy, our environment and our residents.”
The microgrid project in Camden is part of a broader effort in New Jersey to increase energy resilience and renewable power generation, and is supported by the State’s Board of Public Utilities (BPU).
“The Board has long recognized that encouraging municipalities, with their critical facilities, to develop standalone grids that would continue to operate if a main grid is rendered nonfunctional is critical to ensuring that our state’s residents continue to receive public health and safety services in dire circumstances,” said New Jersey Board of Utilities President Joseph L. Fiordaliso. “Investing in infrastructure improvements, like these microgrids in Camden, will help mitigate the impacts of major storms like Irene or Sandy and improve the city’s resiliency in the face of crisis.”
Working alongside the Freeholder Board, CCMUA and the BPU is Covanta who is suppling energy into our internal loop and the will provide energy to the microgrid when it comes online.
“The BPU sponsored microgrid project between Covanta and CCMUA will be an exceptional model of public/private partnership that will increase the sustainability, efficiency and resiliency of critical utility infrastructure,” said Richard Sandner, vice president and general manager of Covanta’s New York/New Jersey Region. “We sincerely appreciate the help and support of all the parties involved in the project and look forward to continued collaboration to make it a reality.”
Quantified Ventures helped issue the first-ever EIB with DC Water in 2016, and has been replicating this outcomes-based financing approach to deploy impactful projects and infrastructure across the country.
“By tying investor repayment directly to the delivery of successful social, health and environmental outcomes, Environmental Impact Bonds (EIBs) enable governments to pay for success on the back end rather than pay for everything up front and hope for the best. As a result, the public sector can make spending of often-scarce public funds more efficient, and catalyze greater investment into innovative projects without taking all the risk,” said Eric Letsinger, CEO of Quantified Ventures. “Camden’s microgrid project will become a model for how resilience is built and financed globally tomorrow while filling an immediate need for its communities today. We’re quite humbled to be a part of this bold effort.”
The Environmental Impact Bond Challenge was launched in 2017 with funding from The Rockefeller Foundation, who supported the initiative as a way to promote innovative financing solutions to build resilience in vulnerable and economically distressed communities.
“We’re grateful to our partner Quantified Ventures for their continued support of the Environmental Impact Bond Challenge, which expands efforts to bring financing to municipal resilience projects meant to benefit our poorest and most vulnerable community residents,” said Saadia Madsbjerg, Managing Director for Innovative Finance at The Rockefeller Foundation. “Communities like Camden County, New Jersey are being creative and innovative about how they deliver infrastructure and services in a cost-effective way to build resilience for their constituents, and that should be applauded.”
The Rockefeller Foundation has a long history supporting innovations that seek to catalyze private sector investment for social, environmental and public good. For more than a decade, the Foundation has been building the infrastructure for the impact investing field to take hold. The Foundation is committed to using its philanthropic risk capital—through both grants and program-related investments (PRIs)—to develop and scale the next generation of innovative finance solutions needed to close the gap between national and global development funding needs and the resources that are currently available.
To learn more about Environmental Impact Bonds, visit: http://www.quantifiedventures.com/environmental-impact-bonds/
About The Rockefeller Foundation
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today the Foundation is focused on securing the fundamentals of human well-being—health, food, power, and jobs—to ensure every family experiences dignity and opportunity in our rapidly urbanizing world. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot—or will not. For more information, please visitwww.rockefellerfoundation.org.
About Quantified Ventures
Quantified Ventures simplifies access to impact capital through a Pay-for-Success (PFS) approach, with strategies in the environment, health and education sectors. As a leader in outcomes-based financing, Quantified Ventures helps de-risk investments in social and environmental innovation by evaluating, designing, executing, and managing Social and Environmental Impact Bonds.