LEXINGTON, KY (June 14, 2023) – Alex Jacquez, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Development and Industrial Strategy at the White House National Economic Council, visited Lexington today to address county judge executives, magistrates, and commissioners at the Kentucky County Judge/Executive Association (KCJEA) and Kentucky Magistrates and Commissioners Association (KMCA) Joint Summer Conference on federal resources and opportunities for coal and power plant communities in Kentucky.
As part of his address, Jacquez reinforced the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (Energy Communities IWG)’s commitment to supporting energy workers and spurring long-term economic revitalization in Kentucky energy communities.
“We have once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform America’s economy in a way that is both just and sustainable for workers and communities,” said Alex Jacquez, Special Assistant to the President for Economic and Industrial Strategy at the White House National Economic Council. “Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Inflation Reduction Act, the Biden-Harris Administration is focused on driving investment to energy communities to create opportunities in emerging clean energy sectors and bring good-paying jobs to the places that have powered our nation for generations.”
Kentucky is home to two of the top-25 priority communities, Eastern Kentucky (#2) and Western Kentucky (#6), identified in the Energy Communities IWG’s initial report to the President. As part of the 2023 Legislative Session, the Kentucky Legislature passed House Bill 9, which establishes $2 million in general fund dollars for a matching funds grant program to support 41 counties impacted by concentrated, direct coal-related job losses from mine and power plant closures in recent years.
“This legislation is about rebuilding our coal communities who have unfairly shouldered the burden of a rapidly changing economy,” said Sen. Robert Stivers, Senate President. “With this vital funding, qualifying communities will receive priority access to federal funds and grants that will promote economic enhancement with the revitalization of local infrastructure, fiber optic expansion, and an emphasis on rebuilding decaying downtowns. House Bill 9 is a win not just for coal country but all of Kentucky.”
Rep. Jason Petrie, who co-sponsored HB 9 and chairs the Kentucky House Appropriations and Revenue Committee added, “HB 9 is the latest in the legislature’s efforts to grow our economy and bring prosperity to every Kentucky community. This is a tremendous opportunity to leverage federal funds to help rebuild local economies in eastern and western Kentucky. The coal mined in these two regions provided affordable, reliable energy to Americans for generations, now we must invest in identifying new economic prospects that will create jobs and rebuild communities.”
House Bill 9 establishes the Government Resources Accelerating Needed Transformation (GRANT) Program which will allow energy communities to access federal funding for projects of public interest and for a public purpose. All 41 counties eligible for the program were prioritized by the Energy Communities IWG as communities most likely to be impacted by near term declines in coal production and generation from coal-fired power plants.
“Our coal communities powered the United States through two world wars, and made us the world power we are today,” said Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear. “In Kentucky, we’re working to prioritize these communities and help them welcome new industry and investment. Through House Bill 9, we’re helping relieve financial strain on the local level so our coal towns and counties can keep building for long-term success.”
Historic investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act present energy communities with a multitude of opportunities to revitalize communities, diversify workforces, and support energy workers. The Energy Communities IWG has announced more than $14 billion in federal investment for energy communities throughout the nation. which includes more than $6 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and nearly $3 billion in energy infrastructure investments.
To support Kentucky energy communities, the Appalachian Regional Commission, a key member of the interagency working group, recently awarded $500,000 to five area development districts to build capacity in Appalachian Kentucky. The Energy Communities IWG also launched a Rapid Response Team to support Western Kentucky by providing on-the-ground technical assistance and coordination of federal funding opportunities to energy communities in the Illinois Coal Basin dealing with recent and/or facing imminent fossil energy transitions such as coal mine and plant closures
Established by an Executive Order during President Biden’s first week in office, the Energy Communities 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. The Energy Communities IWG supports the Administration’s goals of a carbon emission-free electricity sector by 2035 and economy-wide net-zero emissions by 2050.