The Biden government is earmarking $20 billion from a federal “green bank” for clean energy projects, such as residential heat pumps, electric vehicle charging stations and community cooling centers.
Two programs, with envelopes of $14 billion and $6 billion respectively, will provide grants to nonprofits and other groups to invest in clean energy projects, with a focus on on disadvantaged communities, according to the White House.
Vice President Kamala Harris, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Michael Regan and other officials were scheduled to announce grant competitions at a historically black college in Baltimore on Friday.
Congress created the Green Bank, officially known as the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, following the passage of the Climate Act last year. The grant competitions follow a $7 billion “Solar for All” program launched last month for residential and community solar projects in low-income communities. All three programs will be overseen by the green bank, with grants planned for next year.
Mr Regan, whose agency oversees the green bank, called the grant schemes “a way to tackle the climate crisis and reshape the economy” at the same time. The three programs will provide “transformative resources” to many disadvantaged communities, which are often overlooked by commercial banks and investors, he said.
“These communities have been left behind in this transition, and this is going to be a strong signal to the market for us to pull private capital out of the fringe” in urban and neglected areas, Regan told The Associated Press. in an interview.
The $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund will provide grants to up to three national clean finance institutions, enabling them to partner with states and the private sector to provide affordable financing for tens of thousands of projects of clean technologies at the national level, specified the APE.
The $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator, meanwhile, will award grants to seven nonprofits that will work with other groups to provide access to the investments needed to deploy clean technology projects. .
Hundreds of community lenders, credit unions, housing finance agencies and other institutions will fund clean technology projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities, the agency said.
Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Democrat who first introduced legislation to create a national green bank 14 years ago, said the grants will accelerate the deployment of clean energy in underserved communities. served, such as Baltimore, which have been disproportionately affected by pollution and climate change.
“These funds will serve as a force multiplier for private investment in clean energy projects to reduce emissions and promote environmental justice in underserved communities across the country,” he said, adding that the measure is a “victory for workers, our economy and our fight to tackle the climate crisis”.
National Clean Energy Investment Fund grants will allow individuals, families, non-profit organizations, state and local governments, and small businesses to access the capital needed to deploy a range of energy projects. clean energy for homes, businesses and communities, said the EPA. The projects will reduce air and water pollution while creating jobs and reducing energy costs, officials said.
Projects that could be funded include cooling centers in some urban areas suffering from extreme heat as well as charging stations for electric vehicles, building renovations and the installation of efficient heating and air conditioning systems, Mr. Regan.
“It’s really about making sure that every person in this country experiences the best possible quality of life through clean energy technology,” he said.
Green bank, “slush fund”
Republicans in Congress have criticized the green bank, calling it a taxpayer-funded “slush fund” ripe for abuse.
A party energy motion, passed in March, would repeal the funds allocated to the green bank. Alabama Representative Gary Palmer said the fund would benefit Wall Street businesses, but would not “reduce the cost of heating for American families.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers said the creation of the green bank was “rushed, without any accountability or oversight necessary to manage taxpayers”.
Mr Regan disputed that claim, saying officials had “spent a lot of time designing this fund”.
He promised a “very rigorous management and accountability system on how these recipients invest this capital”.