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Post-Sandy New Jersey Needs More Resilient Solutions

How can we, in 2012, discover that we don’t have the resilient infrastructure necessary to ensure the most basic needs of a community are met during a disaster?

As a Freehold, New Jersey resident I know firsthand how important the Hurricane Sandy Recovery act, signed last week by President Obama, will be to our efforts as we rebuild the homes, businesses and communities across New Jersey that were devastated by the storm.

I remember the aftermath of the super storm vividly – days and nights without power, businesses and homes along the shore closed and shuttered – if they still stood at all. Hotels and the few open businesses with generators crowded with people needing to charge phones so they could communicate with family members or get news and updates on when the power might come back, or the local station might have gas again. What I remember most clearly was my own frustration. How can we, in 2012, discover that we don’t have the resilient infrastructure necessary to ensure the most basic needs of a community are met during a disaster?

Our focus needs to be on making choices that will ensure our communities are resilient. We can’t simply rebuild, we have to challenge our leaders to look at new technology and opportunities to improve infrastructure. One action we should take is to make a short-term investment in technologies that will make our infrastructure less vulnerable. One of option that I’m very familiar with is off grid, renewably powered technology solutions. This kind of backup for the energy grid would have a long-term positive impact on local businesses, communities, residents and visitors.

While acting as the President of the GE Environmental Engineering Systems Company, I watched these kinds of technologies develop. Now, as the President and Chief Operating Officer of Lumi·Solair, a company that develops off-grid wind and solar technologies, I’ve learned how critical it is to implement solutions that work, especially when they’re needed most.

Our off grid light pole installed last year in the most vulnerable part of Atlantic City withstood Hurricane Sandy and was one of the only streetlights that  still worked during those critical hours and days after the storm. I know for a fact that there are wind powered technologies that can provide power for up to 8 days even in zero wind – I know because that’s what we use on our lights. Many off grid technologies can also withstand inclement weather and are flood proof. These are the kinds of sustainable solutions we need to look at as we rebuild.

I am working hard with my team to develop more solutions; but we need more people focusing on clean tech solutions to modern infrastructure challenges. I urge you to contact your local representative and request that they consider utilizing off-grid, renewably powered technology in the effort to rebuild your community.  

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Dr. Gerard Gorman, is responsible for overseeing the business development, financing and management processes at Lumi•Solair. Dr. Gorman has led, several large privately held and publicly traded companies, including holding the role of President and CEO of General Electric’s Environmental Engineering Systems (GEESI) company, President of Magnatek, a $1.2bn corporation and CEO of Karp Associates. He has lived and worked in Africa, Europe, Pakistan, South Korea, and China. Dr. Gorman has also served as the Vice Chairman of the US Environmental Technology Export Council in Washington DC and currently serves as Entrepreneur in Residence for ITAC and Industrial Specialist at NY State Energy Development Administration. He also holds an M.B.A. from NYU's Stern School of Business and has conducted research at the Tokamak reactor at Princeton University.

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