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Director’s Update – October 11, 2022

Dear Energy Community Supporter,

Before reading on, check out the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG) on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Energy Communities IWG leaders attended several important events over the past two weeks to hear from stakeholders on the ground and educate them on billions of dollars in available grants to help get federal funding to energy communities. You can learn more by clicking on the below posts.

IWG Launches Illinois Basin Rapid Response Team

The Energy Communities IWG last week launched a USDA-led Illinois Basin Rapid Response Team (RRT), bringing together the White House and 11 federal agencies to partner with local officials and community leaders in Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky to support the region’s transition to a clean energy economy. The new RRT will align federal resources, including regional staff on the ground in the Illinois Basin area, toward key communities experiencing recent or imminent economic downturns from coal mine and power plant closures.

The announcement comes during a visit by federal leaders to Carbondale. On Wednesday, September 28, federal officials toured energy and manufacturing facilities in the area, including the John A. Logan Solar Project, Southern Illinois University (SIU) Carbondale’s Airport & Automotive Program – whose facility was built on former mine lands – and the university’s iFERM (Illinois Food, Entrepreneurship, Research, and Manufacturing) Hub. Energy Communities IWG also hosted a public workshop to engage community leaders, highlight relevant federal funding, and identify opportunities for regional economic diversification and growth in response to coal mine and power plant closures.

Read more about the new RRT here.

New Funding Opportunities & Announcements

  • Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Creates Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment Program (EIR). Led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office, EIR plans to use $5 billion from the IRA to support loan guarantees up to $250 billion for energy infrastructure projects. More on this new program.

  • U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Launch Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Programs. These programs will help communities plan and deliver transformative projects for their communities that increase affordable transportation options, enhance economic opportunity, reduce environmental burdens, improve access and quality of life, and provide other benefits to disadvantaged communities. Learn more here.

  • U.S. Department of Treasury Releases Request for Comments for Energy Community Definition. The Department of Treasury is responsible for implementing new tax incentives under the Inflation Reduction Act and is requesting comments on how those incentives should be implemented, including on how to approach the definition of “Energy Community” under the statute. Submit your comments here.

  • Inflation Reduction Act Permanently Extends Funding for Miners with Black Lung Disease. The permanent extension of the coal excise tax provides a significant investment in the security of the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund for years to come and helps ensure federal benefits for miners with black lung disease and their families. More in this Department of Labor blog.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $3.6 Million to Support Business Expansion in Lansing, Michigan. This Coal Communities Commitment grant will support industrial expansion and infrastructure upgrades at the local airport needed to spur economic growth and create new business opportunities. Read more here.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Invests $1.4 Million in Coal Communities Commitment Funds to Umatilla, Oregon. The city plans to use the grant to provide local businesses with access to low-cost operating space to boost opportunities in a region impacted by the declining use of coal. More on this grant.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Announces $1.3 Million Grant Awarded to Morgan County, Ohio. Funded by the Coal Communities Commitment, this grant will be used for water infrastructure improvements to support industrial job growth in the region. More details here.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards Grant to Support Business Growth in Monroe County, Ohio. The $1.2 million grant will support economic development in a region impacted by the decline in coal jobs by relocating and upgrading a 3,700-foot water main to ensure reliable water service to local businesses. Learn more here.

  • U.S. Department of Labor Awards Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Grants. Of the $34.4 million in total grants, $17.1 million was awarded to 13 projects in Appalachian communities. The grants will be used to provide education, training and supportive services in regions that have suffered significant job losses in the energy extraction industry. Find out more here.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $5.3 Million to Support New Business Growth in Point Pleasant, West Virginia. The town will use the grant for a new wastewater treatment plant to support a new steel manufacturing facility in a region impacted by the declining use of coal. More details here.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Awards Coal Communities Commitment Grant to Wyoming Energy Authority. The $595,000 grant will enhance the economic development planning capacity of Wyoming by researching opportunities in the energy industry, developing road maps and strategies for new energy initiatives, and supporting industry coordination. Learn more here.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $3 Million Grant to Boost Workforce Development Efforts in Clifton Forge, Virginia. The Coal Communities Commitment funding will support the establishment of a manufacturing training center to meet local employers’ existing and future workforce needs. Read more in this EDA press release.
  • U.S. Department of Energy Announces $156 Million for America’s First-of-a-Kind Critical Minerals Refinery. This facility will extract and separate rare earth elements (REE) and critical minerals (CM) from unconventional sources like mining waste, strengthening America’s domestic supply chain. Read more here.

Upcoming Funding Deadlines

Events & Additional Resources

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Allocates $551.8 Million of American Rescue Plan (ARP) Funding to Coal Communities. As a result of robust demand, EDA significantly exceeded its original $300 million Coal Communities Commitment, providing a total of $551.8 million to coal communities across its six ARP programs. Learn more in this fact sheet.

  • U.S. Department of Energy to Host Informational Webinar for Carbon Capture Demonstration Projects Program. The webinar will take place on October 13 at 10 a.m. EDT and provide an overview of the program, submission requirements, and the application and merit review process. Registration is not required – access the link the join here.

  • U.S. Department of Energy to Host Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas Workshops. Hosted by the Office of Clean Energy Demonstration, the workshops will provide a detailed overview of the program and collect feedback from stakeholders. The workshops will take place on October 12-13 in Golden, CO, October 26-27 in Little Rock, AR, and November 1-2 virtually. Register here.

  • U.S. Department of Energy to Host Clean Energy on Mine Land Workshops. Hosted by the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, the in-person and virtual workshops will gather input from stakeholders on the drivers, challenges and potential impacts of mine land demonstrations. Register here.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture to Host Rural Workforce Innovation Network (RWIN) Virtual Workshops. These regional workshops, taking place on October 13, October 27, and November 18, will discuss how to locate federal grants, share tips on completing applications, and give an overview on federal grants management. Register today.

On behalf of all IWG member agencies, thank you for your continued interest in programs that support people living and working in America’s energy communities. Please feel free to share this newsletter with others in your network who may benefit.

Best regards,

Brian J. Anderson, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization
Director, National Energy Technology Laboratory
U.S. Department of Energy

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