The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a new initiative aimed at helping communities transition away from fossil fuels and toward cleaner energy sources.
The $16 million program seeks to aid in the creation of an “initial roadmap” for identifying clean energy economic opportunities or boosting existing projects, according to the department.
It’ll be specifically geared toward either communities that are harmed by the transition away from fossil fuels or that face disproportionate impacts from environmental issues such as pollution.
The program comes as the Biden administration seeks to balance a shift away from climate-contributing fossil fuels with a commitment to workers who may be impacted by the energy transition.
In a webinar on Wednesday, Energy Secretary Jennifer GranholmJennifer GranholmBiden expresses confidence on climate in renewable energy visit Overnight Energy & Environment — Spotlight on solar Biden administration report shows solar could produce 45 percent of US electricity by 2050 MORE described the new program as a start of a “bigger effort.”
“This is going to be a reciprocal, long-term relationship,” she said. “DOE brings financial resources and energy experts … into communities because communities then on their part bring knowledge, deep knowledge, on local needs as assets.”
“What we want to do is meet each community wherever they are in their energy transition,” she added, saying that after 12 to 18 months, communities would be prepared to work with the federal government long-term.
According to the department, the community plans can focus on areas including implementing clean energy projects, improving building efficiency and opportunities for using technology to capture and store emissions from fossil fuels.
Kate Gordon, a senior adviser at the department, told The Hill in an interview that the program would involve dispatching experts into communities to help them formulate the plans.
She said that in communities where planning work has already been done, the technical experts would help them turn that into reality by helping them figure out technology and access points.
Gordon also expressed optimism that communities whose economies are heavily reliant on fossil fuels would be open to these opportunities, citing recent department discussions with coal communities.
“Across the board, these communities want to diversify their economies,” she said. “This…pilot provides very specific opportunities to leverage some of what they have…so I think they’re actually quite positive about it.”
The department is currently seeking public input on the program.
Updated at 5:36 p.m.