In the shadow of the clean energy wave

Since the passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) last summer, there has been a sense that a great tsunami is brewing, originating in Washington D.C. (at the Department of Treasury, Department of Energy, Environmental Protection Agency, and other solemn bureaucratic bunkers) rumbling and growing and about to sweep across the nation with transformational power.  

In the interim between the passage of the act and the process of developing rules and programs to implement the IRA, skeptics have filled the void with dark muttering about the cost (while ignoring the cost of the Trump tax cuts and ignoring the cost of doing nothing on climate change) and the States, Local Governments, Tribes, Utilities, Nonprofits and others who will see the benefit have endured a vague worry that they are not doing enough to prepare, not hiring enough grant writers and researchers and/or creating programs that can receive federal funds.  

We know the following is about to roll across the nation: $9 Billion in Home Energy Rebates, $1 Billion in Energy Code Assistance, $14 Billion in Clean Energy Business Loans, $ 9 Billion in Energy Grid upgrades, $1 Billion for Affordable Housing, $7 Billion for Clean Transportation, $277 Billion in Energy Tax Credits, $27 Billion for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, $3 Billion for Environmental Justice Block Grants, $12 Billion for Rural Energy Assistance, $2.6 Billion for Coastal Climate Resilience programs, and $7 Billion for various other clean energy initiatives. Soon programs associated with these pots of money will start to take shape, and that is when we will begin to see the impacts of this most historic investment.  

On Feb. 14, the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out its plans for the $27 Billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund with a goal to open up competitive funding rounds this summer for two separate programs - a General and Low Income Assistance competition and a Zero Emissions Technology Fund competition. Also recently, the Department of Energy created the Office of State and Community Energy Programs to implement programs flowing from the IRA and the previous Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.   

Don’t expect to go to sleep in an unjust, carbon-belching world and wake up in an electric futurama where environmental equity is solved. The IRA is going to take time. Probably the benefit of many programs will not be fully realized before the next presidential election. While it is up to the Biden Administration to tell the story of the clean energy, clean transportation, clean jobs, and resilient infrastructure, the environmental justice in the IRA, the transformation spurred by the IRA will well outlast this administration and the subsequent foreseeable administrations. 

Some things will be realized sooner than later. The energy tax credits alone, with the provision that nonprofit utilities can receive a direct payment for renewable energy generation - this will completely transform the economics of the construction and operation of grid-scale wind, hydro, and solar in the near term. We also know right now that those paternalistic Boomer tropes about petroleum being the lifeblood of the American economy will soon be shaken, and soon, with the rumblings of the oncoming clean energy tsunami.  

You can get involved as soon as next week! On Feb. 22 at 3 PM, the EPA will hold a listening session to hear ideas from community-based organizations and grassroots energy and environmental justice organizations to create an effective and equitable Home Energy Rebate program. >>> Register here

On Feb. 23, 9 AM, the EPA will hold a similar listening session but for equity-focused implementors and advocacy organizations. >>> Register here

Reach out to your lawmaker and Governor Dunleavy and ensure they know that you support their efforts to create programs in Alaska that can utilize the firehose of federal funding.

Take care,
The Alaska Center

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