New Funding From President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda will Revitalize Energy Communities, Create Good-paying Jobs, and Improve Public Health
WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $450 million from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to advance clean energy demonstration projects on current and former mine lands. Deploying clean energy projects in mining communities across the nation is key to strengthening rural economies, creating new, good-paying jobs, and reducing harmful greenhouse gas emissions that jeopardize public health and pollute local ecosystems. The funding also builds on the more than $14 billion whole-of-government effort by President Biden’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities to deliver new economic opportunities to communities hit hardest by our evolving energy landscape—underscoring the President’s deep commitment to ensuring no community is left behind as we build America’s clean energy future.
“Deploying clean energy projects on America’s mine lands will unlock new opportunities for energy communities that have helped power our nation for generations, especially those in rural areas that have been the most affected by the energy transition,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, mining communities across our nation can access an unprecedented level of new funding to ensure they can help lead our clean energy future.”
Approximately 17,750 mine land sites are located across 1.5 million acres in the United States, which expose local populations to harmful pollutants and contaminate the air, land, and water quality in the surrounding areas. Repurposing this extensive area of land for clean energy projects is estimated to generate up to 90 GW of clean energy—enough to power nearly 30 million American homes. Developing clean energy projects on mine land provides an attractive economic alternative to using undisturbed natural and agricultural land. Mine land is often located near critical infrastructure that makes it suitable for clean energy development, including electric substations, transmission lines, and access roads or railroad lines. Projects funded through the Clean Energy Demonstration Program on Current and Former Mine Land will establish how mine lands can be successfully leveraged for clean energy and will pave the way for broad replication of these projects across the nation.
Spurring Economic and Environmental Revitalization
DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) manages this program and will provide up to 50% of the cost, ranging from $10 million to $150 million, for each project. DOE is seeking well designed, financially viable projects that can be deployed quickly. For this funding announcement, DOE seeks projects that demonstrate:
- Replicable pathways that resolve key barriers to expanded clean energy development on mine land
- Preservation of natural and agricultural resources through repurposing mine land for clean energy projects
- Benefits of integrating clean energy facilities on mine land to mine operations, local energy infrastructure, and to the mining communities themselves
Projects selected through this funding opportunity will help to create high-quality and long-term jobs, spur economic development, and provide other direct benefits to the local community. DOE intends to award projects that direct benefits to economically distressed areas, including former coal and manufacturing communities. In addition, DOE aims to prioritize projects in which community members are partners and/or equity co-owners.
Interested applicants will be required to submit a Community Benefits Plan to outline how proposed projects will support community and workforce engagement, invest in the American workforce, advance energy and environmental justice, and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, encourage collective bargaining and free and fair opportunities for workers to organize, and deliver benefits to disadvantaged communities as part of the Justice40 Initiative.
Eligible clean energy technologies include solar, microgrids, geothermal, direct air capture, energy storage, advanced nuclear technologies, and fossil-fueled electricity generation with carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration. Up to five clean energy projects will be carried out in diverse geographical regions, at least two of which must be solar projects. Projects may be on current or former mine land and includes clean energy projects that can aggregate multiple solar projects/sites.
Distinct from the funding opportunity announcement, OCED is also offering no-cost technical assistance to inform decision making on topics related to developing clean energy projects on mine lands. Technical assistance will vary based on specific project needs/requests and intends to support any phase of project development, including concept development, planning, design, or execution.
Concept papers are due by May 11, 2023, and full applications are due by August 31, 2023. Read the full funding opportunity announcement here. Register for the funding opportunity announcement webinar on April 19, 2023 here.