November 15, 2022
Conservation and public interest groups today are celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL). The $1.2 trillion measure, signed into law by President Biden on Nov. 15, 2021, includes $550 billion in new investments in energy innovation and infrastructure projects, such as transportation and building electrification, energy grid modernization and resiliency, and energy efficiency initiatives.
In September, a coalition of 15 clean energy, equity, community and consumer advocacy organizations delivered a letter to hundreds of elected officials urging them to take advantage of the incredible opportunities presented by the BIL. Our coalition will continue to work with state, local and Tribal decision-makers to help facilitate the pursuit of projects that advance the clean energy transition, provide equitable benefits to all people, create new good-paying jobs, and improve the resiliency of communities already experiencing the impacts of climate change.
Looking ahead, several new grants will be made available through programs established by the BIL. Much of this money will be allocated through competitive grants, meaning states, local governments, Tribes, and private entities will need to identify innovative clean energy solutions and submit them in a timely manner as entities across the country jockey for funding. New opportunities opening up soon include:
- A total of $5 billion to prevent outages and enhance the resilience of the electric grid. Of that amount, $2.3 billion will be allocated via formula grants.
- An additional $10.5 billion will be allocated through grants to enhance grid flexibility and improve the resilience of the power system against growing threats of extreme weather and climate change. The Department of Energy is expected to begin soliciting applications for these funds later this year.
- $8.3 billion will be allocated for funding toward projects that will benefit Western water. The funding includes $3.2 billion for aging infrastructure and $1.15 billion for water storage and conveyance, as well as funds for water recycling, desalination, rural water projects, dam safety, the Colorado River Basin Drought Contingency plan, waterSMART grants, watershed health, and aquatic ecosystems.
- The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program will make $550 million available to assist states, local governments, and Tribes in implementing strategies to reduce energy use, to reduce fossil fuel emissions, and to improve energy efficiency. Applications for these grants are expected to open later this year.
- The Building Codes Implementation for Efficiency and Resilience Program will allocate $225 million in competitive grants to enable sustained, cost-effective implementation of updated building energy codes to save customers money on their energy bills. Applications for these grants are expected to open later this year.
- Renew America’s Schools Grant Program will make $500 million available to help K-12 public schools with energy-saving energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, with the first $80 million pool of funding opening up shortly.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is an unprecedented opportunity that puts billions of dollars on the table for state, local and Tribal governments to fund clean energy projects,” said Severiano DeSoto, Western State and Federal Clean Energy Policy Fellow at WRA. “To fully reap the benefits these funds can provide — from providing our schools with electric buses to strengthening our power grid against the impacts of climate change — decision-makers on all levels need to act now. Showing the federal government that our communities want these funds can potentially spur greater investments in clean energy solutions that will not only reduce costs, but also improve the quality of the air we breathe, the water we rely on, and the reliability of the electricity we need every day.”
“These historic climate investments are investments into protecting our public health,” said Sabrina Pacha, Senior Director of Healthy Air & Water Colorado. “Colorado has already seen funding for cleaner, electric school buses and transportation emission reduction projects – investments like this will continue to improve our health.”
“This once-in-a-generation chance to create a better future for the Southwest is happening now, and funding for projects is flowing,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project. “We have a tremendous opportunity to save people money, increase energy efficiency, and reduce pollution through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.”
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides critical investments in modernizing Utah’s energy, water, and transportation infrastructure, preparing our state to face the challenges related to the Great Salt Lake, a growing population, and a changing climate,” said Josh Craft, Government Relations Manager for Utah Clean Energy. “We want to thank Sen. Mitt Romney for working across the aisle to make this critical bipartisan legislation possible. It is making a major difference in Utah communities.”
Below are some of the most significant clean energy projects across the Interior West that have already been identified for funding through the Bipartisan Infrastructure law:
- The BIL authorized the EPA to offer $5 billion in rebates over the next five years to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models to reduce harmful emissions from older, dirtier buses. In the first round of funding this year, EPA awarded $913 million to 391 applicants. In the Interior West, funding went to:
- Arizona: $11.4 million, 26 electric buses.
- Colorado: $2.9 million, 8 electric buses.
- New Mexico: $4.6 million, 12 electric buses.
- Nevada: $9.9 million, 25 electric buses.
- Utah: $4.7 million, 12 electric buses.
- Arizona will receive $76.5 million over the next five years to expand electric vehicle charger infrastructure through the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program (NEVI).
- The state is expected to receive $33.4 million over the next five years through the Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid program to strengthen and modernize Arizona’s power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters exacerbated by the climate crisis.
- The City of Phoenix Public Transportation Department will receive $16.4 million to buy hydrogen fuel cell buses, battery electric buses and charging equipment as well as worker training as part of the initial phase of the city’s zero-emission transition plan. This project will improve service reliability and air quality throughout Phoenix.
- Colorado will receive $54.1 million over the next five years to expand electric vehicle charger infrastructure through the NEVI program. The state is also expected to receive approximately $86 million in the same period to reduce transportation-related emissions, and about $98 million to increase the resilience of its transportation system.
- The Colorado Department of Transportation, on behalf of Summit Stage — a rural transit agency serving Summit, Park and Lake counties — will receive $35 million to build a new charging and operation bus facility. This will include 100% electrification, fleet storage, and electric vehicle charging.
- The City of Pueblo will receive $17 million for its West Side Connector project, which will reconnect the West Side of Pueblo to downtown. This will correct a barrier that has prevented underserved communities from accessing essential services and employment centers.
- New Mexico will receive $38.4 million over the next five years to expand electric vehicle charger infrastructure through the NEVI program. The state’s initial plan for the spending was approved in September.
- The City of Las Cruces will receive $5.7 million to replace aging diesel buses with battery-electric buses, purchase electric chargers, and create and maintain well-paying jobs in the second-largest city in New Mexico and the main transit hub of the south central region of the state.
- The New Mexico Department of Transportation will receive $3 million on behalf of the South Central Regional Transit District to buy battery electric buses and charging equipment, provide training and buy property it currently leases. By sourcing energy from a solar-powered provider, the district will further reduce greenhouse gas emissions while improving service to communities in south central New Mexico.
- Nevada will receive $38 million over the next five years to expand electric vehicle charger infrastructure through the NEVI program. The state is expected to receive approximately $57 million in the same period to reduce transportation-related emissions, and about $65 million to increase the resilience of its transportation system.
- Harry Reid International Airport is set to receive more than $16 million in federal funding for projects aimed at renovating runways and phasing out diesel buses.
- Approximately $24 million has been allocated to Nevada for weatherization and $5.3 million to help prevent outages and make the power grid more resilient. Additional funding is expected to be announced by the end of 2022.
- Utah will receive $36.3 million over the next five years to expand electric vehicle charging infrastructure through the NEVI program.
- The Utah Department of Transportation will receive $6 million on behalf of Park City Transit to buy battery-electric buses and charging equipment to expand its express route service in the Quinn’s Junction area. The new buses will provide more frequent, reliable and clean transit for the city’s workforce as well as vulnerable communities and seasonal visitors.
- Summit County received $25 million for the State Route 224 Battery Electric Bus and BRT Project, which adds 12-foot, side-running, dedicated bus lands on State Route 224 and provides more transportation options and efficiency.
- The Tintic and Uintah School Districts will receive $4.7 million to purchase 12 electric school buses, helping to replace highly emitting diesel school buses in their fleets.
- The Central Utah Project Completion Act Allocates $50 million in funding that will provide greater water supply for municipal and recreational use throughout the state.