Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator (EPA) Michael Regan Thursday announced eight organizations that will oversee the spending of $20 billion in grants to fund tens of thousands of clean energy and transportation projects in disadvantaged communities across the United States.

“While every community has the capacity to join the clean energy economy, not every community has had the opportunity to do that,” Harris said at an event on Charlotte announcing the grantees, adding that the funding reflects two Biden administration priorities – expanding access to capital and building a clean energy economy.

The $20 billion, made available through the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) created in the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act, will largely be invested in projects ranging from home energy retrofitting programs to off-grid renewable energy in communities that have not had access to green financing.

The selected organizations will create a national clean financing network that will help kickstart projects over the next seven years that are expected to reduce or avoid up to 40 million metric tons of climate pollution annually.

Harris and Regan visited a home in the historically black neighborhood of Grier Heights in Charlotte, North Carolina, where homeowner has used the type of financing that will be made available through the GRRF to retrofit his home heating and energy systems to make it more efficient and affordable.

A local nonprofit, Self-Help, that helped him access funding years ago to retrofit his home, co-leads one Climate United, one of the eight organizations selected to distribute federal funding to help replicate the types of retrofits that have been happening in Grier Heights.

The EPA plans to get the money to the organizations by September this year. The GGRF has been a target of congressional Republicans, who passed a resolution this year attempting to repeal what they have called a climate “slush fund.”

‘FIERCE URGENCY’

Three non-profit coalitions comprised of community development financial institutions, local green banks and other community lending organizations were chosen to distribute $14 billion from a National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF), that aims to support affordable clean technology projects nationwide.

Another five groups have been chosen to administer the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator, which will provide funding and technical assistance to community lenders working to back clean technology projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Harris said this was the first time federal dollars will be directly given to local non-profit organizations, who she said were best placed to make investments in their local communities.

Of the $20 billion, at least $4 billion will be dedicated to investment in rural communities and $1.5 billion will be directed to programs benefiting tribal nations.

The grantees are expected to mobilize almost $7 of private capital for every $1 of federal funds they spend.

William Barber, head of the Coalition for Green Capital – one of the selected organizations, said it was fitting that the announcement took place on the anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, and said the funding will help the U.S. face the “fierce urgency of climate change.”

“Climate change is no longer a distant threat but an accelerating reality,” said Barber, who said the awards will unlock the power of private and public capital to help all communities be able to help tackle the issue.


© 2024 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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