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Director’s Update – September 22, 2022

Dear Energy Community Supporter,

At the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG), our goal is to distribute more funding and resources to energy communities throughout the nation. As you read this newsletter, you will find information about funding opportunities, resources, upcoming events, and critical information that can help support revitalization in your community. For real-time news and updates, you can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

IWG to Visit Carbondale, Illinois

The Energy Communities IWG is hosting a public workshop in Carbondale, Illinois on Thursday, September 29 from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. CST. “Revitalizing Energy Communities in the Illinois Basin” will focus on identifying opportunities for regional economic diversification and growth in the Illinois Basin in response to coal mine and power plant closures.

Federal representatives will share federal funding opportunities to support economic and community revitalization in energy communities in the region and connect local officials with those resources. Regional leaders will share stories of funding at work and provide local context for what challenges remain to be addressed.

Check out the working agenda and register here to participate.

Coal Communities Chosen for Recreation Economy for Rural Communities Assistance Program

Last month, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the Northern Border Regional Commission, and the Appalachian Regional Commission announced Recreation Economy for Rural Communities (RERC) program assistance for 25 small and rural communities across the United States. RERC is a planning assistance program that helps rural communities leverage outdoor recreation to revitalize Main Streets and diversify their economies, leading to improved environmental protection and public health outcomes. Of the 25 communities announced this round, several are located in coal-impacted regions, including Haines, AK; Jenkins, KY; McKee, KY; Fayetteville, WV; and Clairfield, TN; among others. These communities will undertake a variety of projects, including: building new trail systems; improving access and walkability along Main Streets; increasing access to outdoor activities for all residents and visitors; strengthening outdoor recreation businesses; adapting to the climate impacts that affect coastal resources, wildfires, and winter recreation opportunities; cleaning up and repurposing vacant buildings; and creating new parks and recreation amenities. Learn more here.

New Funding Opportunities & Announcements

  • President Biden Announces 21 Winners of $1 Billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge. The Regional Challenge provides each award winner, several of which are energy communities, funding to rebuild regional economies, promote inclusive and equitable recovery, and create thousands of good-paying jobs in industries such as clean energy, next-generation manufacturing, and biotechnology. Watch his announcement here or read more here.

  • U.S. Department of Energy Announces Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Funding for First-of-its-Kind Critical Minerals Refinery. Up to $156 million in funding will be used to develop a facility that extracts and separates rare earth elements and critical minerals from unconventional sources, like mining waste. The elements and minerals will then be used in clean energy technologies. More details here.

  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Announces up to $169 Million in Brownfields Grants. These Brownfields Multipurpose, Assessment, Revolving Loan Fund, and Cleanup Grants, which are boosted by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, represent a significant investment in overburdened and underserved communities. Learn more here.

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Accepting Applications for ReConnect Program. $1 billion is available in loans and grants to expand access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet for millions of people in rural America. The application deadline is November 2. Learn more and apply.

  • U.S. Department of Energy Announces $425 Million to Expand State Clean Energy Programs. This expanded funding provided by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will enable states to develop and implement a variety of clean energy programs and projects that will create jobs, spur economic growth, cut Americans’ energy costs, and reduce carbon emissions. Click here for more information.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Invests $3.1 Million to Support Job Growth in North Carolina. Greensboro and Winston-Salem, communities impacted by the declining use of coal, received grants that will help expand a manufacturing facility in support of minority-owned business growth and expand the Enterprise Center to support the development of additional food-based businesses, respectively. More in this EDA press release.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Awards $2.2 Million to Boost Business Development in Austin, Minnesota. This Coal Communities Commitment grant will support infrastructure upgrades at the Creekside Business Park that will bring new business and job opportunities to the region. Read more about this award here.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Announces $1.3 Million Grant for Burnsville, North Carolina. The town plans to use the grant to help diversify the local economy and create new jobs by extending water and sewer service to a new greenhouse lettuce growing facility. More on this Coal Communities Commitment grant.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Boosts High-Speed Internet Connectivity in Elkins, West Virginia. EDA awarded a $1.7 million Coal Communities Commitment grant to the town to support increasing internet connectivity in underserved communities, particularly those impacted by the declining use of coal. Find more details here.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $3.2 Million to Support Business Growth in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This American Rescue Plan grant will be used for industrial development and to build infrastructure that can support new businesses and jobs in the region. Learn more here.

  • U.S. Department of Energy Awards $29 Million to Advance Clean Hydrogen Production. The investment supports 15 industry- and university-led projects to produce low-cost, clean hydrogen from waste products and to design and implement carbon capture systems that enable clean hydrogen production from natural gas. Read more here.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Invests $2 Million for Water Systems Upgrades to Support New Businesses in Augusta, Georgia. Funded under the Assistance to Coal Communities Initiative, this project will provide the water and sewer improvements necessary to accommodate two new industries and create jobs for the region. More info here.

  • U.S. Department of Commerce Awards Coal Communities Commitment Funds to Communities in West Virginia. Durbin, Logan and Madison, West Virginia, received funding in various amounts to support necessary projects that will help the communities create jobs and recover from economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Read more here.

  • U.S. Economic Development Administration Awards $2.1 Million to Richfield City, Utah. The city plans to use the Coal Communities Commitment funds to construct road and utilities infrastructure to allow for expansion of a business park, creating new opportunities for business growth in a region impacted by the declining use of coal. More in this EDA press release.

  • U.S. Department of Energy Invests $31 Million to Advance Carbon Capture and Storage for Natural Gas Power and Industrial Sectors. Ten selected projects will use the funds to develop carbon capture technologies capable of capturing at least 95 percent of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions generated from natural gas power plants, waste-to-energy power plants, and industrial applications. More details here.

Upcoming Funding Deadlines

The following funding opportunities have application deadlines coming up in the next four weeks and can all be found in the IWG’s online clearinghouse.

Events & Additional Resources

  • U.S. Department of Energy to Host Tribal Clean Energy Summit 2022. Tribal leaders are invited to join U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm on October 4-5 in Washington, DC for a nation-to-nation roundtable discussion of a key question: How can the U.S. Department of Energy strengthen tribal energy sovereignty? Register by September 27 here.

  • Presentations Available from 2022 Tribal Energy Webinar Series: Funding Your Energy Future. Transitioning to a cleaner more sustainable energy future will require significant capital investment. This webinar shares some of the opportunities that are available to tribes to fund their investments, including those available in the Energy Communities IWG clearinghouse. Check out the slides.

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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