Press release

As Hurricane and Fire Season Begin, Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute Report Outlines How to Provide Resilient Backup Power to Medically Vulnerable Households

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June marks the start of hurricane and fire season for millions of
Americans. Following the lessons of Hurricane Maria in Puerto
Rico and the Camp Fire in Northern California, public health
professionals should recognize that it’s past time to address the
dangers faced by more than 2.5 million Americans – primarily senior
populations – when power outages due to storms, fires, or other
disasters impact the home medical devices that the medically vulnerable
need to survive.

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As hurricane and fire season begin, a Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute report outlines how  ...

As hurricane and fire season begin, a Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute report outlines how to provide resilient backup power to medically vulnerable households. First-of-its kind analysis shows that resilient battery storage technologies can provide reliable backup power for critical home medical equipment. (Graphic: Business Wire)

How battery storage and solar technologies can mitigate this expanding
risk is examined in a new report from two national nonprofits, Clean
Energy Group and Meridian Institute: “Home
Health Care in the Dark: Why Climate, Wildfires and Other Risks Call for
New Resilient Energy Storage Solutions to Protect Medically Vulnerable
Households from Power Outages
.” The report details the risks
associated with power outages for individuals reliant on electricity for
in-home medical and mobility equipment, and provides a set of
recommendations to improve access to resilient power technologies.

“Until now, emergency backup power options for households reliant on
electricity-dependent medical equipment were limited,” said lead report
author Marriele Mango, a program associate at Clean Energy Group.
“Battery storage is a new solution that could fundamentally change how
medically vulnerable households prepare and prevail through an outage.
The public health and energy fields must start working together to
ensure that this high-risk population is protected with these new
emerging energy technologies in the event of an outage.”

Annie Shapiro, a program associate at Meridian Institute, added insight
into the urgency for solutions. “Across the country, we are seeing a
growing population of electricity-dependent individuals and an increase
in the duration and frequency of power outages,” said Shapiro. “These
factors necessitate an innovative approach to backup power that could
improve resilience among vulnerable individuals that are most affected
by the impacts of power outages. This report outlines opportunities to
integrate reliable, clean energy backup power into public and community
health. Only if we take these steps now can we deliver benefits to
vulnerable individuals through improved resilience and electric bill
cost savings over time.”

“We’re eager to explore ways we can support community resilience in the
face of increasing natural disasters,” said Mike Painter, senior program
officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation’s largest
philanthropy dedicated solely to health, which supported this work. “We
need new solutions to ensure that when the power goes out, communities
can sustain the health and well-being of all their residents.”

State and local governmental agencies, utilities, and even insurance
providers should recognize battery storage and solar as critical to life
support during a disaster, and provide opportunities for medically
vulnerable, electricity-dependent individuals to access resilient
systems. Among the recommendations for policymakers and public health
professionals detailed in the report are the following:

  • funding research into energy security and resilience for home health
    care beneficiaries;
  • developing better data that accurately portrays the size and scope of
    the electricity-dependent population;
  • collaborating with healthcare providers and home health agencies;
  • fostering utility-administered residential battery storage programs;
  • encouraging legislators to expand Medicare coverage to include battery

The need for battery storage solutions is especially critical today as
more people opt to receive medical care at home, rather than in a
nursing home or hospital. As natural disasters increase in frequency and
severity, access to resilient backup power in the event of an outage can
be a matter of life or death for these populations. For example, health
care complications, including outage-related issues like medical device
failure, accounted for almost one-third of the estimated 4,645 deaths in
the three months following Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico
and other Caribbean islands in 2017.

Support for this report was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect the
views of the Foundation.

The report and a 2-page fact sheet are available at:

Clean Energy Group will be hosting a free webinar on June 27 to discuss
the findings of this report. Details at:

About Clean Energy Group

Clean Energy Group is a leading national, nonprofit advocacy
organization working on innovative technology, finance, and policy
programs in the areas of clean energy and climate change. The Resilient
Power Project, a joint initiative of Clean Energy Group and Meridian
Institute, is designed to help states and municipalities with program
and policy information, analysis, financial tools, technical assistance,
and best practices to speed the deployment of clean, resilient power
systems in their communities. For more information, visit

About Meridian Institute

Meridian Institute builds understanding, guides collaboration, and
drives action to address our world’s complex challenges. We do this with
an innovative approach that brings together three elements: our deep
understanding of the issues at hand, as well as the people, politics,
and power dynamics that surround them; our dedicated, expert team; and
our ability to foster constructive discussions, manage decisions, and
support actions that shape the world for the better. Established in
1997, Meridian is a not-for-profit organization with offices in Colorado
and Washington, DC. For more information visit