Federal Funding for Community-Based Clean Energy Saves the Day for Municipalities
Community-based clean energy projects across the U.S. are getting a windfall of cash from the Biden administration. Using funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Program, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm announced the federal government is allocating $550 million to help municipalities deploy community-based clean energy initiatives, from infrastructure projects that cut down carbon emissions to energy grid investments targeting efficiency. This could get as granular as using the funds to build out electric vehicle charging stations or launch community solar gardens.
To access the majority of the funds, a “direct injection of DOE funds” amounting to a good $440 million, municipalities must apply through the EECBG. The other $110 million will be reserved for the EECBG itself to make sure it can operate effectively and efficiently in supporting community-based clean energy projects.
These funds arrive at the perfect time as municipalities across the U.S. are already attempting to implement their own community-based clean energy initiatives to varying success. Some, like Alliant’s community solar garden in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, are gaining massive traction among households and small businesses. Other community projects in disadvantaged communities are facing cost barriers to implementation; supply chain delays and their subsequent price hikes have held back installation of critical equipment for community-based clean energy projects.
Carl Kasalek, CEO at WattLogic, sees this federal funding move as a positive development in the saga of the U.S.’ clean energy transformation, and reiterates that if these community projects are to succeed, they’ll take support from public and private entities.
“The release of the $550 million for community-based initiatives is going to be outstanding for particularly many municipalities that have been waiting to figure out how they can fund these projects and how they can move forward. In particular, over the last few months, we’ve seen extreme interest in electric vehicle charging stations and cities that want to roll those out.
But I think even more than funding, what cities need is private partners to help roll these out. And that’s something that we’ve been working on and seeing a huge demand for on, how can these cities be guided to actually execute on what they want to deliver on. And I think that’s what we need to come together for from a business relationship perspective, to really bring that guidance to these cities and help them put these funds to good use.”
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