The Biden administration announced Tuesday that it would allocate $550 million to support community-based clean energy initiatives.
As part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block (EECBG) program, the funding will help state, local, and tribal governments implement plans to reduce fossil fuel emissions and overall energy use, according to a memorandum of understanding shared by CNNBreakingNews for the first time.
The total amount made available through the latest bipartisan infrastructure bill is expected to benefit more than 250 million Americans while helping to achieve a net-zero economy by 2050, according to the Department of Energy.
Applications for the EECBG program will be available to all 50 states, five U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, 774 tribes, and 1,878 local governments, in accordance with the MoU.
“This direct injection of DOE funding is critical for communities committed to a just, resilient and clean energy future,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.
The total of $550 million approved by Congress is available until issue, the Department of Energy intends to distribute $440 million in formula funds and competitive grants to eligible parties.
The remaining $110 million will be used to make the EECBG program effective and efficient and to provide technical assistance to eligible institutions.
According to the Department of Energy, eligible uses of the funds include a variety of capacity-building, planning and infrastructure projects to reduce CO2 emissions and energy consumption and improve energy efficiency.
For example, communities could use the funds to expand electric vehicle infrastructure or launch municipal solar projects to supply areas that otherwise have no access to clean energy, the agency explained.
Other options include conducting energy audits for buildings and developing environmental protection programs for transport, such as traffic light synchronization, building cycle paths or opening satellite workplaces in accordance with the MoU.
The Department of Energy will provide funding under the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007, with 28 percent going to states, 2 percent to tribes, and 34 percent going to each of the two local levels of government.
This means that $299.2 million in formula funds will go to local governments, $123.2 million to states, and $8.8 million to eligible tribes, according to the MoU.
The Department of Energy is providing an additional 8.8 million dollars for competitive grants to local governments — including tribes — that are not eligible for direct grants.
This is the second time that EECBG has received funding. The program initially received $3.2 billion in funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
Applications for the EECBG program will open in January. The program is in line with President Biden’s Justice40 initiative, which, according to the Department of Energy, is targeting 40 percent of the total benefits of clean energy investments to underserved populations.
“State, local, and tribal communities across the country will be able to use these funds to advance greater energy efficiency and environmental practices,” Granholm said.
Such improvements, she added, would help “lower utility bills and create a healthier environment for American families.”