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White House Hosts IWG Summit, and New Funding Opportunities

December 17, 2021

Dear Energy Community Supporter,

The Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities continues to raise awareness about funding opportunities and ways to reduce barriers to accessing those funds from across the federal government. As part of our commitment to energy workers and their communities, we will continue to provide actionable information and updates on our overall progress. To help us spread the word, I encourage you to share this information with others in your network.

White House Hosts IWG Summit

White House, IWG Host Summit Announcing Launch of Centralized Funding Web Tool and New Investment Commitments From Private and Philanthropic Sectors. This week, the White House hosted the IWG, Cabinet-level and senior staff appointees, and several key stakeholders for a roundtable summit to discuss the progress in engaging priority energy communities across the nation.

During the event, IWG announced the launch of a first-of-its-kind online clearinghouse that gives energy community leaders and advocates a user-friendly database to access funding opportunities across the federal government. As of today, the clearinghouse features more than $45B in open and planned funding opportunities, of which more than $2.8B has been awarded thus far. Of the 75 funding opportunities available, 20 do not require any matching funds – an important benefit for many energy communities to reduce barriers to accessing funds. Click here to access the one-stop resource where users can easily sort and filter opportunities based on funding type, program purpose, and eligibility.

Exemplifying the best in public-private partnerships, the IWG also attracted significant private sector investments in energy communities. Several executives from private companies and several leaders from the labor, philanthropic and higher education communities also participated in the summit – and they committed to hundreds of thousands of dollars to deliver transformative investments in energy communities. Read more here.

New Funding Opportunities

  • The EDA Announces Build Back Better Regional Challenge Phase 1 Finalists. This week the Economic Development Administration (EDA) announced sixty Phase 1 finalists for the Build Back Better Regional Challenge, an American Rescue Plan program aimed at helping regional communities overcome economic distress, improve resiliency and strengthen their workforce. This once-in-a-generation funding opportunity includes $100 million dedicated to coal communities, as part of the EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment. The agency selected 12 coal communities as finalists for Phase 1, reaffirming their commitment to support economic revitalization in energy communities across the nation. Click here to read more.
  • The Bipartisan Infrastructure and Jobs Act (IIJA) Culminates a Year of Investment in Energy Communities. President Biden’s bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act represents the culmination of a year of historic investments in energy communities hard-hit by shifting energy markets. This historic investment will spur advanced energy manufacturing facilities and clean energy demonstration projects in communities where coal mines or power plants have been shut down, support the reclamation of abandoned mine lands and orphaned oil and gas wells, expand access to broadband, and more. When coupled with the strategic direction provided by the President’s Report on Carbon Capture and Methane Emissions Reduction Plan and the Build Back Better framework, these historic investments will create millions of good-paying union jobs in hard-hit energy communities across this country. They also will reduce greenhouse gas emissions, advance environmental justice, and build a stronger, healthier, and climate-resilient future for generations of Americans. Click here to learn specific details of how these investments benefit the nation’s energy communities.
  • USDA Offering Grants for Rural Residents to Get Connected to the Internet. U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Department has begun accepting applications for up to $1.15 billion in loans and grants to help people in rural areas get access to high-speed internet. This announcement comes on the heels of the recently enacted bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which provides another nearly $2 billion in additional funding for the ReConnect program. Applications for funding must be submitted through USDA Rural Development’s online application system on the ReConnect webpage here. For additional information, see the October 25 Federal Register notice here.
  • Treasury Department Launches 2021 State Small Business Credit Initiative Application Portal. On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed The American Rescue Plan Act, which provides $10 billion to fund the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI). SSBCI will fund state, territory, and Tribal government small business credit support and investment programs, including those that support energy communities. SSBCI recently launched its application portal here. Initial applications were submitted by states on Dec. 11, 2021. Next states and Tribal governments will work with their partners on developing full applications. More information on the program may be found here

Additional Resources

  • “Where to Start? A Webinar for Energy Communities Starting a Transformation.” Here’s a livestream replay of the virtual workshop with federal agencies and local practitioners to learn about available resources and best practices for addressing industrial change in a community. This webinar provides guidance on getting started, including a discussion with community leaders who have first-hand experience and can offer their perspectives on what works. This virtual event provides a step-by-step guide to engaging on the topic in a community, a checklist of necessary activities, discussion of common experiences, case studies, resources, and a task list for developing a plan that addresses financial, employment, and social disruptions. Download the presentation slides here.
  • ARC and U.S. EPA Announce Partnership on Community Capacity-Building Pilot Program. In partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Appalachian Regional Commission announced the Community Capacity-Building Pilot Program to help local development districts and elected officials deploy American Rescue Plan Act funds to reignite regional economies. The initiative, detailed here, will help ARC better support communities across Appalachia make long-term investments in the region. ARC is also in the process of seeking proposals from qualified organizations for the next phase of the Community Capacity-Building Pilot Program, which will provide technical assistance to communities deploying American Rescue Plan Act Local Fiscal Recovery Funds. Proposals are due January 14, 2022, at 5 p.m. EST.

On behalf of all IWG member agencies, thank you for your continued interest and support of our efforts.

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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