IWG Executive Director Brian Anderson, Ph.D., senior officials from several federal agencies , and practitioners in the field hosted a virtual workshop Nov. 3, 2021, to share key resources and advice on how energy communities can access billions of dollars available to address economic challenges and industrial hardships.
The working session, titled “Where to Start? Webinar for Energy Communities Starting a Transformation,” provided step-by-step guidance for developing a plan to tackle financial, employment and social disruptions caused by power plant, coal mine and oil and gas facility closures.
“Traditional energy communities are often caught off guard when a power plant or coal mine announces it will close and don’t know how to access resources and funding to assist their community through such a fundamental shift,” said Anderson. “The currently available federal funding identified by the IWG can support economic revitalization in the near- and long-term.”
Experts Curt Oldfield, President of Spoon River College, and Gerry Roll, CEO of Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky, shared examples of past success stories and lessons learned. In addition, Environmental Protection Agency Senior Advisor Jon Grosshans discussed best practices for minimizing impacts from closures and where to find capacity assistance locally, at a state level, and federally for successful economic revitalization.
“The federal government set aside nearly $38 billion to help these areas revitalize their economies and thrive for generations to come, including $2 billion in funding that has been awarded thus far,” Anderson said. “Part of the IWG’s mission is to break down the barriers to access funding and get more resources to more energy communities more quickly. That’s our main goal with these national and local workshops and webinars.”
Established by an Executive Order in President Biden’s first week in office, the IWG is pursuing a whole-of-government approach to create good-paying union jobs, spur economic revitalization, remediate environmental degradation and support energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country.