The 11th Hour funding stimulus and spending package from Congress includes some bright spots for clean energy and climate action as we head into an otherwise dark year.
It couldn’t come sooner. American workers and companies — including those in the business of cleaning up our homes, buildings and electricity supplies — are struggling. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly half a million clean energy workers have lost their jobs, According to the latest research from E2. And led by the industry in what is traditionally the slowest time of year, this winter is particularly bleak.
Some highlights from the all-encompassing stimulus and spending package:
· energy efficiency: The package includes $82 billion in funding for colleges and other schools to improve energy efficiency and upgrade HVAC systems in schools closed during the pandemic. Congress also agreed to increase funding for the Energy Department’s Weatherization Assistance Program and to expand tax deductions for energy efficiency in commercial buildings. Hopefully, this will help put some of America’s 314,000+ unemployed energy efficiency workers back to work, while saving money for consumers, businesses, and local governments with every monthly electricity bill. They will also make our schools safer when students are able to fully return to the classroom.
· renewable energy: Production tax credit (PTC) for wind will be extended till 2021 while investment tax credit (ITC) for solar will be extended till 2023. Non-commercial solar tax credits for individuals have also been extended to 2023.
· Clean Energy RD&D: The package expands critical federal clean energy research, development and demonstration programs — including DOE’s loan guarantee program and the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA-E). Of particular importance is funding growth for energy storage (batteries) and grid modernization. These investments are critical to the future of clean energy in America. In addition to funding this year, the package increased the level of funding that may be available next year. this great chart by Arjun Krishnaswamy of NRDC Shows some growth for RD&D:
One of the most important policies enshrined in the omnibus spending bill has nothing to do with clean energy, but does everything to help our environment and economy.
Omnibus is included in the package American Innovation and Manufacturing (AIM) Act, which sets the standard for phasing-down super pollutants known as HFCs, or hydrofluorocarbons, used in air conditioners, refrigerators and other applications. Under the AIM Act, the US will cut HFC use by 85 percent over the next 15 years. This would reduce heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions by 150 million tons – or the equivalent of removing 32 million cars from the road.
The AIM Act is perhaps the most important climate law passed by Congress this year, and it shows how we can do good for our environment and our economy at the same time. In addition to cutting greenhouse gases, it is expected to create 33,000 jobs and $12.5 billion in new investments as building owners, HVAC and appliance companies and others roll out new products to meet the law.
E2 and its members worked hard to push Congress to pass the Clean Energy Expansion and Expansion, as well as the AIM Act. For example, we conducted this letter to Congress from over 200 architects, engineers and construction proficiency professionals from every part of the country inspired parliamentarians to pass the AIM Act On clean energy, we also made sure lawmakers saw Our comprehensive report on clean energy jobs and our policy proposal And heard from its members in several virtual meetings held earlier this year.
While the last-minute incentives and spending bill had some important provisions, it left out others that could have made it much better. This did not include essential clean vehicles and infrastructure, or tax credits for batteries or storage. It did not include “direct pay,” which is needed to ensure clean energy companies can access tax credits extended during the COVID recession. Nor did it do anything to address the disparity in access to clean energy or the lack of diversity in clean energy jobs.
As Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden told E&E NewsThe package is a good start, but with a new Congress in January and the Biden administration, more needs to be done.
“I hope these expansions will serve as a bridge to the comprehensive reform needed to end our reliance on Big Oil and ensure that green jobs are good jobs,” Widen said in a statement. “I plan to keep this up until America eliminates its carbon habit once and forever.”
At E2, we plan to maintain that as well.
Some bright spots for clean energy in Congress’s grant package basically . was published in e2org on the medium.
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