$150k Grant Will Provide Tesla Powerwalls to At-Risk Populations

In 2017, 14 people in a Florida nursing home died when Hurricane Irma knocked out their power. Without air conditioning, they died of overheating. Twelve of those 14 deaths were ruled to be homicide, as they could have been prevented if anyone had taken action on their behalf.

Hurricanes and high heat are a growing fact of life on the east coast of the U.S., and odds are good that this exact scenario will happen again. It is with this in mind that the Vermont Low Income Trust for Electricity (VLITE) has backed a grant to help. They have offered $150,000 to install 100 massive battery backups in the walls of low-income, high-risk customers.

The batteries, Tesla Powerwall 2.0 batteries, are meant for exactly this: to power a home for a short period of time (8-12 hours for a whole house, longer if used selectively) in case of a blackout. Ordinarily, through the provider (Green Mountain Power, in this case) they cost $1,500 upfront or an ongoing $15/month fee. To buy one outright and have it installed can cost over $10,000. Green Mountain reports that the 2000 Powerwalls they’ve already distributed to paying customers can be expected to save them an accumulated $2-3 million over the batteries’ lifespan, and much more for customers who supplement with solar.

The customers chosen to receive free batteries and installation with the grant will be mostly senior citizens and the disabled, along with people who have medical needs for uninterrupted power or those who would be endangered by the loss of their air conditioning.

VLITE is a nonprofit, public benefit corporation with a mission to represent “the best interests of the public” in building an energy-secure State of Vermont. They are currently overseeing 21 different energy-related grants to a total of nearly $2 million. They are funded by dividends from Vermont Electric Power Company.

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Lund via Flickr Creative Commons.

Organizations Profiles

Michigan Teens Take Action

michigan community foundation
IMG: via

In the late 1990’s, the Kellogg Foundation issued a challenge in Michigan called the Michigan Community Youth Foundations Project.  The foundation would match 50% of funds raised by young people in order to create an endowment fund for community projects.  Today, the fund created by teens is worth $40 million altogether and awards up to $2.5 million annually.  The fund is managed by 86 groups around the Michigan known as Youth Action Committees.  The groups are comprised of young volunteers that learn how to write grants, engage a volunteer base and manage financial assets for non-profits.  Many teens say that their biggest takeaway from participating is learning that one person can make a difference in their community.  Several of them go on to pursue degrees in social work.

The Kellogg foundation believes that by investing in youth over an eighteen year period, it will help form a new generation of passionate citizens that will continue the charitable efforts for several generations after the initial funding period has ended.  As these children progress through adulthood, they will be more involved in their respective communities and contribute to the well-being of others throughout their lives.  Using fund matching is a way to engage volunteers and motivate them to participate in all aspects of the charity.

The project also sponsors leadership conferences and internships for participants and awards standout achievements.  Last year, one active group awarded over $40,000 in grants to nonprofits and schools in the local community.  Children as young as seven also participated by writing grants on projects with subjects that ranged from environmental conservation to anti-bullying.

Organizations Resources

NYCHA Invests $18 M in Capital Improvements

From January to March this year, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) will be making the most of the $18 million provided by grants from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). With the capital, NYCHA plans to improve eleven of its housing developments in NYC.

“NYCHA continues to make improvements to its building structures and systems by spending its money wisely, and in the best interests of residents,” Chairman John Rhea of NYCHA said in a press release. “These major upgrades are needed regularly to ensure the preservation of our aging building stock, with 70 percent of our buildings more than 40 years old.”

The improvements to NYCHA that John Rhea is speaking of include brickwork, re-pointing, roof replacements, kitchen upgrades, installations of security cameras and intercom systems, bathroom renovations, basketball court renovations, and lighting fixture and spray shower upgrades.

Scheduled to be completed by March 2013, the repairs and upgrades will take place at Red Hook West, East New York City Line, Whitman Houses, Ingersoll Houses, Murphy Houses, Jackson Houses, Isaacs Houses, Glenwood Houses, Taft Rehab, and South Jamaica Houses.

The upgrades and repairs to NYCHA developments will affect about 22,000 residents, and will be an aggressive move to preserve what John Rhea calls “aging building stock.” In the past three years alone, NYCHA has invested more than $1.5 billion in capital investments to this end, with about $423 million coming from federal Stimulus funding. The ongoing effort keeps buildings structurally sound, economically friendly, and in a good state of repair for the more than 600,000 residents.