Measuring Climate and Social Risk and Vulnerabilities for the Microgrids for Community Resilience Program



The following outlines steps for accessing and using the Microgrids for Community Resilience (MCR) Climate & Social Vulnerabilities Mapping Tool. DOLA has created this tool to support applicants in understanding and documenting their vulnerabilities as required in the application process.  As part of the legislative mandate, the MCR program will incorporate measures of vulnerability into our selection criteria. 

How to Use the MCR Climate & Social Risk and Vulnerabilities Mapping Tool

Refer either to the provided video guidance or written guidance below.

  1. Navigate to the tool using the MCR Climate and Social Vulnerabilities Mapping Tool
  2. The top right corner has two icons, a “layers” button and a “legend” button.  Click on the layers button to expand and see which layers are turned on/off.  
    • The default on includes:
      • Counties (black outline)
      • Colorado Environmental Justice (EJ) Flag = orange
      • Climate Vulnerability Flag = purple
      • Both EJ/Vulnerability flags = maroon
        Any overlap/combination of layers will result in maroon shading.  Please consider toggling on and off of various layers if you are not sure which layers are being shown in the maroon color.
    • Optional layers: 
      • For construction/implementation applications, there are questions that call out “optional” layers like J40, wildfire probability, and flood risk. We have not defaulted these layers on, so they are considered optional, but applicants are expected to toggle these layers on to answer the questions as applicable.
      • Optional layers include:
        • Infrastructure identifiers such as substations, power plants, electric power transmission lines and service territories, fire stations, hospitals, and local law enforcement stations.
        • Additional climate vulnerabilities identifiers such as drought intensity, monthly and seasonal drought outlook, National Risk Index Census Tracts, wildfire probability, and flood risk. 
        • Additional social vulnerability indicators such as Colorado EnviroScreen, Justice40.  
        • Additional geography layers such as census places.
        • If you’d like additional layers on, click the checkbox next to the indicator.  These optional layers are available to help applicants understand additional types of vulnerability or infrastructural structures that may support identifying the best location(s) for microgrid assets. 
    • Close layer list by clicking again on the top right corner button.

      MCR Climate and Social Vulnerabilities Mapping Tool
  3. Navigate to the search bar on the top left, which says “Find address or place”.  Type in your town/county as appropriate and select from dropdown. 
  4. You may need to zoom out slightly to see the full extent of the area. Use the +/- buttons on the left side of the screen to do so. 
  5. Click on your location to see a pop-up with detailed information.  The first screen will likely be county-wide, and the second will be locality specific.  
  6. Applicants must include the following information, regardless of if they meet criteria for these categories or not.  The flag indicates (in a binary) if the location meets the threshold for respective risk and vulnerability. 
    • Colorado Environmental Justice Flag (socioeconomic vulnerability)
      • The EJ Flag corresponds to 1 if the projects must be located in a disproportionately impacted (DI) community as defined in the Environmental Justice Act. In May 2023, the legislature passed House Bill 23-1233, which (along with EV charging requirements) standardizes the definition of “disproportionately impacted community” in law.
        • Census block group that meets one or more of the following demographic prongs:
          • Low-income communities:  Census block groups where more than 40% of households are at or below 200% of the federal poverty line.
          • Communities of color: Census block groups where more than 40% of the population identify as anything other than non-Hispanic White.
          • Housing cost-burdened communities: Census block groups where more than 50% of households spend more than 30% of their income on housing costs like rent or mortgage payments.
          • Linguistically isolated communities: Census block groups where more than 20% of the population live in households where all adults speak a language other than English and speak English less than very well.
          • Historically marginalized communities: Communities with a history of environmental racism created through redlining or anti-Black, anti-Hispanic, anti-immigrant, or anti-Indigenous laws, policies, or practices that continue to experience present-day environmental health disparities.
          • Cumulatively impacted communities: Communities where multiple factors, including socioeconomic stressors like income and occupation; standards of housing, sanitation, and nutrition; and the level of health, educational, and recreational services available. It also includes communities with vulnerable populations, disproportionate environmental burdens, and vulnerability to environmental decline or climate change. Cumulatively impacted communities can be presumptively identified in one of two ways:
          • They are in a census tract that the federal Council on Environmental Quality’s Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool identifies as disadvantaged.
          • Tribal lands: the Southern Ute and Ute Mountain Ute Reservations.
          • Mobile Home Communities: areas that meet the Department of Local Affairs’ definition of a Mobile Home Park.
      • Or, a Census block group that has a CO EnviroScreen Score over 80
    • Climate Vulnerability Flag (climate/extreme weather vulnerability)
      Colorado EnviroScreen is an interactive environmental justice mapping tool and health screening tool for Colorado. It was developed for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) by a team from Colorado State University. Climate Vulnerability is one data set mapped in this tool.
      • The Climate Vulnerabilities Flag corresponds to 1 if a community’s risk of drought, flood, extreme heat, and wildfire compared to the rest of the state is above 50%. The score ranges from 0 to 100; the higher the score, the higher the burden. 
  7. The MCR application will prompt you to include scores/data from the relevant layers as outlined above.  In addition, the application asks for a narrative explanation of the various vulnerabilities.  The narrative provides an opportunity to clarify how/why your community’s vulnerabilities are impacting your energy resilience, independent of or related to the data provided in the mapping tool.
    • Socioeconomic/environmental justice vulnerabilities:
      • Please include a narrative explanation of vulnerable populations served by this proposed project, if applicable.
    • Climate/extreme weather vulnerabilities:
      • Please include a narrative explanation of exposure to severe weather and natural disasters.
      • There are two questions (if applicable) referencing flood hazard and wildfire risk. 
    • Infrastructure vulnerabilities:
      • As stated above, the mapping tool includes optional layers for infrastructure, but applicants are also welcome to use available utility and/or FEMA data to show vulnerabilities, such as communities served by one distribution line, outage information.

The goal of the mapping tool and indicators is to help applicants outline various vulnerabilities.  Applicants that tailor their project design and MCR application to incorporate various measures of vulnerability and community input/support will score strongly in this category.  However, the scoring rubric is meant to reward applicants with evidenced vulnerabilities, but not discourage those from applying who may not meet various vulnerability thresholds.  Including as much information on various vulnerabilities (socioeconomic, climate/extreme weather, infrastructure) will support a strong, comprehensive application.  

Access the MCR Climate and Social Vulnerabilities Mapping Tool


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