The Interagency Working Group identified up to $38 billion in existing federal funding that – today – can be accessed by Energy Communities for infrastructure, environmental remediation, union job creation, and community revitalization efforts.
Click on the dollar sign to learn more about the program and the available funding.
Department of Commerce
The Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) has an existing program focused on coal communities, Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC), which can facilitate immediate targeted investments. The ACC program provides grants to communities for a broad range of infrastructure projects, including roads, broadband, technology-based facilities, multitenant manufacturing and other facilities, business and industrial parks, water and sewer system improvements, expansion of port and harbor facilities, and brownfields redevelopment. A 2017 report found that one job was created for every $6,300 of EDA construction investment.[i] The ACC program can also be a resource for technical assistance and financing other non-infrastructure projects with an economic development focus.
In FY2021, EDA received $33.5 million under the ACC initiative, which has ongoing availability, with applications reviewed on a rolling basis. The Department of Commerce is also revising EDA investment priorities to promote projects that meet the needs of coal and power plant communities. The updated guidance will apply to all EDA funding, including $3 billion received through the American Rescue Plan to support a wide variety of communities across America that suffered economic impact due to COVID-19.
[i] SRI International. (2017). Innovative Metrics for Economic Development: Supplemental Report. Arlington, VA: SRI International https://eda.gov/files/performance/REMI-Supplemental-Report.pdf
Department of Commerce
The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 established three broadband grant programs at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), totaling $1.585 billion. These programs collectively focus on tribal communities, minority communities, and those regions that have households without access to broadband at speeds of at least 25 megabytes per second (MBps) for download and 3 MBps for upload.
Specifically, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Grants ($1 billion) provide funding to expand access to and adoption of broadband service on tribal land. Allowable uses for this funding include broadband infrastructure projects, affordability programs, and initiatives that promote digital literacy, telehealth, and distance learning. Eligible entities include tribal governments, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Department of Hawaiian Homelands, tribal organizations, and native corporations.
The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program ($285 million) provides grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), TCUs, and other minority-serving institutions for devices, broadband service, and digital literacy initiatives. Broadband Infrastructure Deployment Grants ($300 million) provide competitive grant funding for technologically neutral projects that deploy fixed broadband service in a census block with at least one household or business that does not have access to 25 MBps download/3 MBps upload, prioritizing service delivering 100/20 MBps or better. Tribal communities and those home to HBCUs, TCUs, and other minority-serving institutions will be eligible for funding from these grant programs. In addition, Energy Communities with broadband needs and shovel-ready infrastructure projects will be eligible to apply for deployment grants. NTIA could facilitate increased participation through targeted outreach to Energy Communities.
Department of Energy
Congress allocated $8.5 billion to the Department of Energy (DOE) Loan Programs Office (LPO) in 2005 for new and innovative technologies, including those that would capture greenhouse gases from traditional energy sources. This funding provides opportunities to decarbonize power plants and industrial facilities, such as those manufacturing cement, steel and other industrial products, with technologies such as carbon capture and hydrogen. Retrofitting these facilities with innovative technology could employ a similar workforce to the one that exists today in fossil-based industries and communities. These investments could create thousands of new jobs while positioning American industry to compete in a global economy that is rapidly turning toward decarbonization.
Separately, DOE will immediately begin accepting applications for $75 million in available funding to develop customized engineering designs to install carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology for power plants and industrial facilities. These funds present another opportunity to capitalize on technological advances to prepare traditional energy plants, potentially including those in Energy Communities, for a clean energy economy.
In addition, DOE is funding geothermal research projects at West Virginia University (WVU) and Sandia National Laboratory. These two projects will receive up to $15 million to help drive down costs and risks associated with the discovery of new geothermal resources for heating, cooling, and power production. WVU will use the funding to explore year-round, deep-direct use heating and cooling as a replacement for the existing coal-fired cogeneration plant that currently supplies steam for the campus and that is slated to close in 2027. WVU will drill an exploratory well with a full logging and coring program critical to developing geothermal resources under campus. The university will also evaluate shallow reservoirs for energy storage, which will be critical to pivoting away from fossil fuels and transitioning to a low-carbon power grid by 2035. Sandia National Laboratories will use innovative approaches conducting electromagnetic surveys to refine geothermal exploration methods and aid drillers as they explore for geothermal energy in the Western United States, a potential opportunity to create jobs for laid-off oil and gas workers.
Finally, DOE will soon release $19.5 million in awards for sustainable critical mineral extraction from coal and associated waste streams. Critical minerals are vital to the manufacture of batteries, magnets, and other important components for making electric vehicles (EV) and other clean energy technology. Energy Communities and workers could be well-positioned to see new industrial jobs extracting critical materials from the waste left behind by coal mining and coal power plants in many communities.
Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched the Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP)—an initiative designed to help environmental justice communities and communities with historical ties to fossil fuel industries take direct control of their clean energy future. The Communities LEAP pilot program provides supportive services valued at up to $16 million to help communities develop locally-driven energy plans to more effectively leverage public and private sector resources to reduce local air pollution, increase energy resilience, lower utility costs and energy burdens, and create good-paying jobs.
Communities LEAP is available to assist to up to 36 low-income communities and energy-burdened communities that are either experiencing environmental justice concerns or direct economic impacts from the shift away from historical reliance on fossil fuels. Communities participating in Communities LEAP will develop an initial roadmap for identifying clean energy economic development pathways or accelerate progress toward existing plans for clean energy development projects.
Participants will receive support jointly offered by five DOE offices to pursue local energy action plans that focus on one or more of the following opportunities: creating pathways for large-scale clean energy project planning and infrastructure; evaluating the ability to use microgrids to increase community resilience; creating job opportunities in fossil fuel communities or those home to heavy industries; planning for clean transportation investments; improving building energy efficiency; enhancing investments in the nation’s clean energy supply chain and improving the energy performance and reducing the cost of industrial manufacturing. The pilot will also prioritize connections to other agencies doing work to support place-based, sustainable economic development.
Department of Treasury
The American Rescue Plan allocated $10 billion toward the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), a program that supports state, territorial, and tribal financing programs, including in economically disadvantaged and minority communities. From 2010–2017, the SSBCI disbursed $1.43 billion, which was leveraged to support $10.7 billion in lending and venture capital financing and which helped create or save more than 240,000 jobs. The Department of Treasury is exploring ways to encourage the use of SSBCI funding in Energy Communities, including by highlighting the objectives of Executive Order 14008 in related program guidance and outreach.
Department of Treasury
The Emergency Capital Investment Program (ECIP) was enacted in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and funded at $9 billion. ECIP provides capital directly to certified Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) or Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) to support low-income and underserved communities that may be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Financial institutions serving Energy Communities that have been impacted by economic fallout from the pandemic, including because of a collapse in energy prices, are eligible to access ECIP funds. Non-bank CDFIs can also access a separate Treasury grant program with an additional $3 billion in funding. Treasury could facilitate increased participation in the program through targeted outreach to CDFIs and MDIs operating in Energy Communities and by encouraging such entities to apply for certification and capital.
Department of the Interior
The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) supports the reclamation of abandoned coal mines. The bureau administers annual mandatory reclamation grants to eligible states and tribes. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, OSMRE announced the availability of $152.2 million in FY2021 mandatory funding for these Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) grants. OSMRE also administers a discretionary AML Economic Revitalization grant program, which will award $115 million in FY2021 funding to eligible states and tribes for coal mine reclamation projects that support economic revitalization efforts. These projects directly address the economic development needs of Energy Communities. OSMRE also has an additional $24.8 million available in FY2021 to provide administrative and technical support for coal reclamation projects in certain states and tribal areas.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) remediates orphan wells on public lands with $4.2 million allocated for this purpose in FY2021. This funding is estimated to address 39 of the 102 orphan wells in BLM’s most recent orphan well inventory, with another $8.7 million available to remediate wells in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. Dislocated oil and gas workers living in Energy Communities would be ideal candidates for employment on these projects.
Department of Agriculture
The Rural Utilities Service Water and Environmental Programs (WEP) provide financing for rural communities to establish, expand, or modernize water treatment and waste disposal facilities. Energy Communities can utilize WEP to address issues related to mine runoff or mine-impacted water. Recently, a rural Michigan town received WEP funding to treat a water source that was contaminated with high levels of magnesium and iron due to mining. Funds were used to construct a new Concrete Gravity Water Treatment Plant for iron and manganese removal with new high lift pumps, a water filtration system, chemical pumping rooms, a water pumping facility, a new clear-well, and transmission main improvements from wells to the treatment facility. For FY2021, WEP has $967 million available for loans, $308 million in grant funds, and $36 million in technical assistance and training funds.
Department of Agriculture
The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) program offers grant funding to help distressed rural communities establish employment accelerators and innovation hubs to create high-wage jobs and strengthen regional economies. Energy Communities can utilize the RISE program to support workforce development; identify and maximize local assets; spur job creation; and connect to regional opportunities, networks, and industry clusters. The RISE program FY2021 application window is anticipated to open in June 2021.
Department of Labor
The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) demonstration grant initiative supports rural communities in aligning workforce development efforts with economic development plans. WORC serves the Appalachian and Delta regions, which include many Energy Communities. Grant activities can include classroom training; work-based learning, including apprenticeships; skills and needs assessments; job matching assistance; online and technology-related learning strategies, including expanding broadband access; supportive services; employer services; and supporting individuals impacted by substance use disorder. Since the inception of this grant initiative in 2018, the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) has administered the program in partnership with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) and the Delta Regional Authority (DRA). ETA plans to publish a funding notice for the third round of WORC grants in spring 2021, with an additional emphasis on Energy Communities. ARC and DRA plan to share the opportunity widely within their regions and to offer technical assistance to potential applicants.
Department of Health and Human Services
Supporting jobs and health care access for Energy Communities is key. The Department of Health and Human Services helps support free-standing rural health clinics where there is neither a hospital nor a health center to bolster the delivery of health care services in underserved communities that have borne the brunt of hospital closures. Additionally, the Community Economic Development (CED) discretionary grants program can support direct investment in Energy Communities, through grants awarded to non-profit community development corporations in disinvested communities for purposes of creating new jobs for low-income individuals, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families recipients. Bonus points will be given to grant applications that demonstrate evidence that the project will support Energy Communities. This program has approximately $13.6 million in funding with an estimated 17–19 grants awarded annually, creating approximately 544 full-time jobs. The solicitation for these grants is released in mid-April with awards in September.
Department of Transportation
The Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program, formerly known as BUILD and TIGER, is a $1 billion competitive grant program that provides flexible capital funding that can support multi-modal and multi-jurisdictional projects. Applicants can include municipalities, counties, tribal governments, and states. Run by the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Office of the Secretary, RAISE represents an opportunity to implement Secretarial priorities directly. DOT recently released the FY2021 funding notice for this program and indicated its commitment to prioritizing projects that improve racial equity, reduce climate change impacts, and create good-paying jobs. This approach will enable DOT to better serve the needs of applicants like Energy Communities that are focusing on job creation and climate change response.
Environmental Protection Agency
The EPA Brownfields Program includes a competitive grant program to provide funding to empower states, communities, tribes, and non-profit organizations to inventory, assess, and clean up brownfields. Brownfield grants facilitate environmental cleanup and economic redevelopment in communities across the country. Success stories already include projects in communities adversely affected by closed or abandoned power stations and mining sites. EPA anticipates releasing the guidelines for its Brownfields Assessment, Cleanup, and Revolving Loan Fund Grant programs in fall 2021. The competition for FY2022 grants will open in fall 2021.
Appalachian Regional Commission
The Partnership for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative grants target Appalachian communities that have experienced job losses in coal mining, coal-fired power plant closures, and coal-related supply chain and logistics industries. Applicants to this competitive program should have a transformational vision for diversifying the regional economy, addressing both short-term response and long-term restructuring. Applications should also be regional, collaborative, large-scale, and outcome-driven. Priorities for funding include workforce development, entrepreneurship, industry clusters, substance use disorders, and broadband access. Current funding availability is $55 million. Since 2015, ARC has invested $238 million in 293 projects touching 353 Appalachian counties. These investments are projected to create or retain more than 26,000 jobs and leverage more than $1.1 billion in private investment
EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment allocates $300 million to support coal communities
Programs with dedicated funds to support coal communities are: