The US Department of Energy (DOE) has launched an initiative – Communities LEAP (Local Energy Action Program) – to help cities, towns, and tribes develop clean energy projects and find funding for them from the $1.3 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and other federal sources. 22 communities around the country are already approved to receive these federal infrastructure funds for microgrids and other clean energy projects through a program that emphasizes “place-based approaches.” The program focuses specifically on bringing clean energy to disadvantaged communities and those in coal country facing challenges because of the transition to clean energy.
Communities LEAP stresses the importance of the development of microgrids and energy storage, along with: energy efficient buildings and beneficial electrification; clean energy development; clean transportation and enhanced mobility; carbon capture and storage; critical minerals recovery; and manufacturing and industry opportunities.
Some planned projects include:
- New Orleans, LA – faced with extreme weather, the city wants to bring greater energy affordability and resilience to small businesses. The funding will be used to continue projects already underway on microgrids and renewable energy, energy efficiency, disaster preparedness, climate change mitigation, and workforce development;
- Highland Park, Michigan – ranks in the 94th percentile for low-income status in the US, and is in an energy crisis, according to the DOE. About two-thirds of its residents live without streetlights. The community action group, Soulardarity, has installed 17 solar street lights, and the community has formed the Pathways to Power project to address power outages, lower energy costs, and pursue methods to make the community more resilient; and
- The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska – the reservation is at the end of its utility’s service line, which can cause electric reliability issues and minimize economic development.
“Communities across the country must be able to take advantage of these historic investments in clean energy infrastructure, energy efficiency and clean transportation,” said Mitch Landrieu, White House senior adviser and infrastructure coordinator. “Technical assistance programs like Communities Leap will help ensure these communities are prepared for the many funding opportunities available from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as we transition to a clean energy economy.”