US House Lawmakers Reintroduce $1.5 Billion Bill for Clean Energy Microgrids

Jan. 28, 2021
A bill offering $1.5 billion a year in grants for clean energy microgrids has been reintroduced in the House of Representatives, this time facing a more favorable climate.

A bill offering $1.5 billion a year in grants for clean energy microgrids has been reintroduced in the US House of Representatives, this time arriving to a more favorable climate in Washington, D.C.

By Cristina Romero Palma/Shutterstock.com

The Energy Resilient Communities Act would help fund clean energy microgrids for critical infrastructure, with a focus on low-income communities and communities of color.

“Through the federal programs established by this legislation, local communities will have access to unparalleled grant funding and technical assistance to develop zero-emission microgrids that will simultaneously tackle the climate crisis while fortifying our essential services and infrastructure to the impacts of future climate disasters,” Rep. Yvette Clarke, one of the bill’s sponsors and a Democrat from New York, said Jan. 25.

Bill reflects Biden goals

The bill was first introduced in October, but since then the Democrats have taken control of the White House and Senate, sharply improving the outlook for the legislation. President Joe Biden has made tackling climate change and environmental justice key elements of his new administration. 

On Wednesday, he signed a climate executive order which, among other things, called for federal procurement to help facilitate a carbon pollution-free electricity sector no later than 2035.

With 39 co-sponsors, the bill authorizes $1.5 billion in annual grants for clean energy microgrids to support critical infrastructure needed after extreme weather events. It also offers $50 million a year for technical assistance.

The legislation reserves at least $150 million of annual funding for grants supporting community-owned energy systems.

State and local governments, territories, tribal agencies, utilities and nonprofit organizations can apply for grants, with a priority given to environmental justice communities.

Other factors that affect the ranking of planned microgrid projects include how effectively they reduce pollution and improve public health, whether they are built on previously used land, whether they support women- and minority-owned businesses and whether the proposed project will be a community-owned energy system.

The grants would support up to 60% of a project’s cost. If the project is in an environmental justice community, the grant could cover up to 90% of the cost.

Eligible infrastructure

Eligible critical infrastructure includes hospitals, grocery stores, community centers, public safety facilities, water systems, public or affordable housing, medical baseline customers and senior housing.

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Ethan Howland

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