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Biz Beat: Kurbside Kona, pilot project in Elk Neck, ReNEW Maryland

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Happening this week around the county …

With all the community events and festivals shut down because of the COVID-19 global pandemic, Kona Ice has changed its business model to offer neighborhood delivery in the same spirit as the ice cream truck. Deidre Garoutte, owner of the franchise that serves Cecil County as well as Harford and New Castle counties has launched Kurbside Kona.

Using social media, she promotes her routes giving customers a heads-up for her arrival. However fans can also request a visit through her website at https://www.kona-ice.com/local-site/kona-ice-of-elkton-newark/.

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Delmarva Power and Sunverge are working on a pilot project that will bring back up service to homes on the Elk Neck peninsula.

Jason Tucker, Delmarva’s project lead, said homeowners in that area will be contacted to determine interest in participating. This area was identified by the utility for its unique position on the grid.

“Most of the homes in Elk Neck are fed on a single line,” Tucker said. “If a tree comes down or some other outage, there’s no back up.”

Elsewhere in the system, Tucker said customers can be rerouted to another line while the outage is fixed. With no redundancy, Tucker said Elk Neck is the perfect spot to launch this pilot program.

“There are 270 homes south of Elk Neck State Park,” he said. Those who participate will need room in their home to place equipment about the size of a dishwasher.

“It’s two batteries and additional equipment,” he said. The lithium ion batteries have a 15 year life. Those batteries would be called into service when the power goes out. In the interim the power gathered by those batteries can be drawn out and put on the grid for use by others.

Maryland Public Service Commission ordered the program through the Maryland Energy Storage Act, which looks for alternative concepts. Delmarva Power is working under one of four proposals in which a third party operates the program on behalf of the utility.

Sunverge will be in charge of what’s being called the Behind the Meter Virtual Power Plant.

“We are honored and excited to be selected for this project and to have the opportunity to work with Delmarva Power to demonstrate the value of residential battery systems for the residents at Elk Neck and to the electric grid,” said Martin Milani, CEO of Sunverge.

“We are confident that Sunverge’s advanced distributed energy resource control and aggregation solution will demonstrate the value of aggregating residential behind-the meter systems for the Maryland electricity grid and participating residential customers. It will provide autonomous and aggregated energy storage, with the goal of providing additional grid reliability and resiliency benefitting Delmarva Power’s entire service area.”

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The next Virtual Mingle Chat hosted by the Cecil County Chamber of Commerce is Thursday May 14 at 3 p.m. This members-only event is limited to 15 people. Past participants have enjoyed these virtual chats saying each person is given time to explain their business in a relaxed atmosphere.

Go to cecilchamber.com to sign up.

The next Virtual Mingle Chat will be May 19 at 10 a.m.

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TCC Gives, the benevolent arm of the Verizon store in North East Plaza, recently made a $2,000 donation to Ray of Hope Mission Center in Port Deposit.

Ray of Hope Mission Center has been helping the Port Deposit community during these uncertain times by offering short term assistance to those who are unemployed or need emergency assistance as well as long term assistance for the elderly, disabled or working families/individuals who need supplemental help,” the official release reads. “A TCC employee in the PortDeposit community nominated the organization to receive a grant from TCC Gives to further their mission during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Courtney Barrett, director of the center on Craigtown Road, said the grant helped maintain the operation at a time when donations are down but the need has increased.

Since TCC Gives began in 2016 it has given away more than $2 million to nonprofit organizations across the country.

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M&T Bank, which has a branch on Jacob Tome Highway in Colora, recently donated $200,000 to two regional food banks; Maryland Food Bank and Capital Area Food Bank. The Maryland Food Bank assists feeding programs in Cecil County.

A virtual food drive for MFB has already raised about $500,000.

“Right now, the need for food is surpassed only by the need for health care,” said Augie Chiasera, M&T’s regional president for Greater Baltimore. “Since the demand is unlike anything we’ve seen before, the decision to again support the Maryland Food Bank and its mission to feed those who need help now was an easy one to make.”

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ReNEW Maryland is a three-step project aimed at bringing businesses in the state away from the brink of disaster fro the effects on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Economic Resilience focuses on immediate financial relief to businesses as well as the rebuilding of consumer confidence.

Economic Recovery will focus on establishing stability and predictability for businesses as the re-opening phase begins.

Economic Rise is the third phase, which will look at the post-pandemic picture for Maryland businesses.

“The health and safety of the public, including our 4,500 members and federated partners and their employees, remains our top priority,”said Christine Ross, president and CEO of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce. “We also believe that federal and state actions taken to address the challenges posed by the evolving crisis must appropriately balance public health and safety with the economic realities our members face. Our ‘ReNEW Maryland‘ plan features proposals that are meant to serve as a menu of options for recovery efforts that will get Marylanders back to work as soon and as safely as possible.”

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On a similar note, the Oxford Area Chamber of Commerce is working with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce by inviting members to take a survey on business re-opening. Whether your business has been open all along, has opened somewhat or has remained closed during the pandemic, take the 3-minute survey at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ReopeningPHL

Business Beat is a weekly column on business happenings in and around Cecil County. If interested in having your business featured in this column, contact Jane Bellmyer at jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com or 443-245-5007.

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