Interagency Working Group Co-Chairs Convene Cross-Sector Leaders Who Are Catalyzing Economic Activity and Job Creation in Energy Communities Now
Today, Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization (IWG) Co-Chairs National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese hosted a roundtable with stakeholders from the private sector, philanthropy, labor and community-based organizations. They were joined by IWG members Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm, who houses the IWG, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, and Appalachian Regional Commission Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin.
The roundtable focused on new private sector and philanthropic investments that have been spurred by the Administration’s efforts to support economic revitalization in energy communities. The roundtable also discussed the announcement of initial awards from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) $300 million Coal Communities Commitment to support economic revitalization, infrastructure investments, and quality jobs in coal communities with funding from the American Rescue Plan.
The discussion highlighted how President Biden’s American Rescue Plan and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are already catalyzing economic activity in energy communities and how the Build Back Better Act will further expand economic opportunity in these communities. The discussion also emphasized how executive actions like the formation of the IWG and the launch of the Justice40 Initiative have catalyzed a whole of government effort to invest in historically disadvantaged communities. The Co-Chairs also released an end of year report highlighting how the Administration’s administrative and legislative actions have bolstered economic activity in energy communities.
To further support energy communities and facilitate access to federal resources, the IWG announced the launch of the IWG federal funding clearinghouse, which includes more than $45 billion in open and planned investment opportunities relevant or targeted to energy communities for infrastructure, environmental remediation, union job creation, and community revitalization efforts.
Roundtable participants included representatives working in West Virginia, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Wyoming, and North Carolina. The group discussed:
- Opportunities to reposition existing assets, like coal-fired power plants, to service new and growing industries and technologies, preserving jobs for workers in those communities.
- The role of labor unions as a key partner to support training of workers as they prepare to move into new functions or jobs.
- How institutions of higher education support workforce development and training, including in secondary school pipelines, and how land-grant universities like West Virginia University and Historically Black Colleges and Universities like Xavier University of Louisiana serve as anchor institutions with deep community ties.
- How philanthropic organizations are making long-term investments to support communities in accessing resources and building the capacity to realize economic revitalization opportunities.
- Xavier University of Louisianawhich described their partnership with the Greater New Orleans Development Foundation to use an EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant to build a green hydrogen energy cluster to decarbonize the South Louisiana industrial corridor that will support equitable job creation.
- The Coalfield Development Corporation, who described the efforts of the Appalachian Climate Technology (ACT Now) coalition, to use an EDA Build Back Better Regional Challenge grant to support the transition from coal to solar power, implement sustainable reuse projects on abandoned mine sites, invest in innovation zones and centers to create a skilled workforce and provide the infrastructure for manufacturing, and create a climate task force and entrepreneurial programs to support employment in field of environmentalism.
- Hecate Energy described its plans to use the clean energy tax credits in the BBBA to develop a solar manufacturing hub in the I-79 corridor from Pittsburgh, PA to Fairmont, West Virginia that includes a consortium of manufacturers of ingots, wafers, cells, modules, tracker, inverters, batteries, as well as an operations and maintenance center that will create more than 2,000 permanent manufacturing jobs.
- Malta Inc. announced the initial findings of a DOE-funded study on retrofitting retired coal power plants with thermal energy storage. They noted how the $500 million for energy storage demonstration projects in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will enable them to demonstrate the viability of their technology on a retiring coal plant in an energy community.
- Sparkz Inc. using technology licensed from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Lab, described their plans to commercialize a cobalt-free, American-made lithium-ion battery that would be manufactured in Appalachia.
- Escalante H2 Power described how the 45Q tax credit in the Build Back Better Act will support their effort to repower a closed coal-fired generating station in New Mexico for hydrogen fueled power production while capturing and sequestering carbon produced from the hydrogen production.
- TerraPower, discussed how, thanks to the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and DOE funding, it recently announced its next-generation demonstration Natrium nuclear reactor at the site of a coal-fired power plant slated to be retired near Kemmerer, Wyoming.
- AFL-CIO discussed how its affiliate members are supporting projects in energy communities and how union energy and construction workers will be crucial to the success of implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and Build Back Better Act and economic revitalization of energy communities.
- United Mine Workers of America discussed how their members in energy communities are ready to support the next-generation projects described in the room, and how their union-led worker training programs can position coal workers to provide a skilled, qualified workforce in energy communities across the country.
- The Just Transition Fund which announced a new initiative with national and regional partners to drive $100 million over the next five years in new investments, including developing a national response center to help communities access federal funds. Key partners include Google.org, Bloomberg Philanthropies, The JPB Foundation, Hewlett Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and the Mertz Gilmore Foundation, as well as regional donors like Pittsburgh-based Benedum Foundation, McKnight Foundation, Appalachian Impact Fund, and the Sugar Bush Foundation.
Pursuant to President Biden’s January 27th Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, the Interagency Working Group membership is composed of the following government officials:
- National Climate Advisor (Co-Chair)
- Assistant to the President for Economic Policy (Co-Chair)
- Secretary of the Treasury
- Secretary of the Interior
- Secretary of Agriculture
- Secretary of Commerce
- Secretary of Labor
- Secretary of Health and Human Services
- Secretary of Transportation
- Secretary of Energy
- Secretary of Education
- Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency
- Director of the Office of Management and Budget
- Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and Director of the Domestic Policy Council
- Federal Co-Chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission