Tag Archives: infrastructure

USDA Invests $5.2 Billion to Build and Improve Critical Rural Infrastructure in 46 States and Puerto Rico

USDA News Release, December 16, 2021

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve critical rural infrastructure in 46 states and Puerto Rico. The investments reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to Building a Better America by investing in rural communities and will help expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity in people’s homes and businesses across rural America. Read more here.

Water & Environmental Programs
USDA investments in Nebraska by types and amounts:

Village of Mason City – Loans: $537,000 / Grants: $482,000
Village of Page – Grants: $82,000
Village of Whitney – Loans: $203,000 / Grants: $432,000

Electric Loans Total: $4,064,469,000
Just one example of USDA’s investments in this infrastructure category: $550 million to the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, a nonprofit created and owned by a network of rural electric cooperatives, with 1,000 member owners across 49 states. Headquartered in the State of Virginia.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The roundtable focused on new private sector and philanthropic investments that have been spurred by the Administration’s efforts to support economic revitalization in energy communities. The roundtable also discussed the announcement of initial awards from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) $300 million Coal Communities Commitment to support economic revitalization, infrastructure investments, and quality jobs in coal communities with funding from the American Rescue Plan.

“Weatherization retrofits and home energy upgrades – like heat pumps, LED lighting, insulation and sealing up leaks — cuts monthly energy bills for families by up to 30%, and makes our air healthier,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to the investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE will be able to help even more communities, cut more air pollution, and generate good-paying local jobs.” For more information about this effort, visit the Weather Assistance Program website.

Previously Posted

The future of ag policy debate

Contributed by Bradley D. Lubben, FarmProgress

Just as I teach students in class to understand the drivers of policy development, it is worthwhile to understand the fundamental challenges facing agriculture as a way to frame the policy issues and debate that is certain to come.

I believe the fundamental challenges or expectations of society for agriculture include four key questions: Will agriculture provide commodity food, feed and fiber production for global demand? Will it provide branded, specialized or production-process-verified products for local food systems? Will it provide bioenergy and renewable energy production to help meet U.S. energy demand? Or will it provide environmental benefits or agro-ecosystem goods and services for society? Read more here.

Lubben is the Extension policy specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NEBRASKA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY & RESILIENCE

THE SECOND INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

The Build Back Better Framework, The White House Briefing Room
This framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

The Build Back Better framework is fully paid for:
Combined with savings from repealing the Trump Administration’s rebate rule, the plan is fully paid for by asking more from the very largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The 2017 tax cut delivered a windfall to them, and this would help reverse that—and invest in the country’s future. No one making under $400,000 will pay a penny more in taxes.

Specifically, the framework:

  • Stops large, profitable corporations from paying zero in tax and tax corporations that buyback stock rather than invest in the company.
  • Stops rewarding corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas.
  • Asks the highest income Americans to pay their fair share.
  • Invests in enforcing our existing tax laws, so the wealthy pay what they owe.

RELATED READING

2022 will be a record year for wind and solar, new report finds

By Pippa Stevens, CNBC

U.S. solar and wind deployments are on track to hit new records in 2022 as momentum behind the energy transition grows, according to a new report from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The firm expects as much as 44 gigawatts of utility-scale solar, and 27 gigawatts of wind to come online next year. For solar, the forecast is nearly double 2021′s estimated 23 gigawatts of new capacity. For wind, 2022′s projected additions easily surpass the current annual record of 16 gigawatts, set in 2020. By way of comparison, the U.S. has a total generating capability of about 1,200 gigawatts, according to the Public Power Association. Continue reading here.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE 

A new RMI analysis shows that the clean energy tax credits and low-cost financing provisions in the Build Back Better framework would help customers save on electricity costs. A related op-ed in the Morning Consult explains how the clean energy provisions could help the United States reach its clean electricity goals by 2030, while saving utility customers $9 billion annually by the end of the decade.

Another RMI analysis shows how a simple change in the tax rules for stand-alone battery storage and transmission would make the proposed legislation even more transformative for the climate and for household energy bills. Source: RMI Newsletter

See Also: Build Back Better Framework

FROM SOLAR POWER WORLD: VETERANS IN THE CLEAN ENERGY WORKFORCE

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

The White House Briefing Room, November 6, 2021

Today, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated “infrastructure week” without ever agreeing to build infrastructure. The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. After the President put forward his plan to do exactly that and then negotiated a deal with Members of Congress from both parties, this historic legislation is moving to his desk for signature.

This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads. It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years. Continue reading here.

RELATED READING

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Boosts Clean Energy Jobs, Strengthens Resilience, and Advances Environmental Justice, The White House

GREEN SCHOOLS / CAMPUSES

How schools are combatting climate change, from green schoolyards to solar power, by Meredith Deliso, ABC News

Overall, the education sector has an untapped opportunity to help mitigate climate change, from renewable energy practices to teachings, according to the Aspen Institute’s K12 Climate Action initiative, which points to school districts like Arlington’s as a success story in demonstrating climate solutions.

“We envision a future where America’s over 100,000 schools are models for climate action, climate solutions, and sustainability, and the 50 million children and youth in these schools are prepared to succeed in the clean economy and lead a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable society,” the organization wrote in a recent policy report.

In Omaha: Photo of Duchesne Academy’s 10-kilowatt solar array, installed by Interconnection Systems Inc (ISI), which is based in Central City, Nebraska. The energy generated by the system powers multiple classrooms, including the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab. where students can integrate data from the solar system into coursework.

The solar array is part of the school’s overall sustainability initiative. Duchesne Academy has the inspiring goal to be a net-positive-energy school by 2030. The school’s other sustainability program goals include zero waste by 2030, having a sustainable food system, and sustainability curriculum integration.

Iowa State and Alliant Energy collaborate on solar farm, Iowa State University 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Your utility: 5 facts about public power

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire

Public power utilities represent 60 percent of the electric utilities in the United States, serving 1 in 7 Americans. Nebraska has 166 public power utilities and cooperatives.

Public power is a unique part of living in Nebraska. The state is the only one in the country where all residents get electricity from public power utilities or cooperatives. This week, Oct. 3-9, is Public Power Week. In recognition, here are a few facts you may not know about your public power utilities.

Public power customers enjoy electricity rates averaging 11.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to investor-owned utility customers, who pay an average of 13.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nebraska enjoys rates that are even lower, an average of 10.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Learn more here.

Infographic by the American Public Power Association (APPA)

Also Written by Laura King-Homan
Resolve to be more energy efficient: October tips, The Wire

Additional Recommended Reading

The [annual Energy Efficiency Jobs in America report] comes as lawmakers consider infrastructure and budget reconciliation measures that include billions in funding for efficiency, which experts say could boost the sector’s employment and reduce U.S. carbon emissions. “What I’m seeing in Congress is a growing acceptance … that we have to act,” Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said at an event introducing the efficiency employment report.

Energy Efficiency Jobs in America  by nonpartisan business group E2 and clean energy nonprofit E4TheFuture

A bipartisan Ohio bill would be a first step to recouping savings, say advocates. But huge losses from House Bill 6 would remain. For Ohio, the MEEA report estimates that Ohioans missed out on roughly $980 million in net benefits for one program year. That figure includes savings on energy bills, as well as things like reduced capacity costs and avoided costs for transmission and distribution. When avoided health impacts and the social costs of carbon are factored in, Ohioans would have saved more than $2 billion for a single program year, according to the analysis.

Since he joined FERC four years ago, Glick has argued the agency isn’t taking a sharp enough look at how gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities affect the climate as well as environmental justice communities, or whether the proposed facilities are even needed. Glick’s letter comes as FERC is considering changing how it reviews natural gas infrastructure under a policy statement set in 1999. The agency launched a review of its natural gas policy in April 2018. After Glick was elevated to chairman last January, he asked for another round of comments from stakeholders on issues like how to evaluate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Secretary Granholm Asks U.S. Mayors to Speed Solar Deployment with Online Permitting Tool

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm wrote an open letter to all U.S. mayors asking them to adopt SolarAPP+, a transformative online solar permitting tool that helps to speed rooftop solar deployment.

This effort comes as Secretary Granholm caps off the Summer of Solar, her push to educate Americans on the benefits of solar energy. Secretary Granholm set a goal to get 125 communities to sign up to learn more about SolarAPP+ by September 30. Read the letter and learn more about SolarAPP+ at solarapp.nrel.gov. Read the entire news release here.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY SEIA

PV MAGAZINE

NEW SURVEY BY DATA FOR PROGRESS

Progressive poll finds support for solar energy tax credit legislation, The Hill
A new survey from progressive pollster Data for Progress found support for a Senate bill that would provide tax credits for solar energy manufacturers at all stages of the supply chain. The poll found that 67 percent of likely voters in the U.S. strongly or somewhat support the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America (SEMA) Act, compared to 23 percent who said they strongly or somewhat oppose the measure.

BLACKROCK

BlackRock losing ‘patience’ on pace of corporate ESG disclosure, CFO Dive
BlackRock, which manages $9 trillion in assets, has pressed for more disclosure in recent years, “but this was the year that we really started to take more concerted action based on what companies were providing us” before the 2021 proxy season, [Jessica McDougall, a director for investment stewardship at BlackRock] said.

Related Post: An Urgent Call To High-Emitting Sectors: It’s Time For Climate Action. Forbes article contributed by Mindy Lubber, CEO & President of Ceres, with additional resources provided by Nebraskans for Solar, including:

Proxy Preview, a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investments Institute, and Proxy Impact. Proxy Preview provides the most comprehensive data on hundreds of shareholder resolutions – including environmental, corporate political spending, human rights, diversity, sustainable governance issues, and much more. Shareholder resolutions are a key form of engagement for U.S. investors interested in changing the environmental and social impacts of companies. Register for a free account to view Proxy Preview reports and watch a webinar at the website link above.

Illinois Poised for Nation-Leading, Equitable Climate Bill

By J.C. Kibbey, Natural Resources Defense Council

After years of work, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Illinois House has voted (83 yes to 33 no) to pass the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408), a nation-leading bill to fight climate change, create good-paying jobs, improve the health of Illinoisans, and support disadvantaged communities. The bill now goes to the Senate, where legislative leaders say they intend to pass it swiftly. Governor Pritzker has championed the bill and has said he will sign it. Read more here.

More about the writer: With Family Roots in the Mines, He’s Championing Illinois’s Clean Energy Future, NRDC

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

USDA accepts more grassland CRP signup, North Platte Telegraph
[Lands] enrolled in CRP — including grasslands — play an important role in addressing climate change. For example, this enrollment of more than 2.5 million acres of grazing land into Grassland CRP will mitigate an additional estimated 22,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

By the numbers: Nebraska ranked third in acres enrolled, behind only Colorado and South Dakota. Montana and New Mexico round out the top five enrollment states.

About the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Future of Agriculture Combined With Renewable Energy Finds Success at Jack’s Solar Garden, NREL News Story. Jack’s Solar Garden is the largest commercially active agrivoltaics system researching crop and vegetation growth under photovoltaic solar panels in the United States. For more information, visit Jack’s Solar Garden, stay tuned for updates on more agrivoltaics projects, and read more about the InSPIRE project’s research at sites around the country.

Making the right buy: LCOE of monofacial vs bifacial modules, PV Magazine
When does increased energy production outweigh increased cost? Clean Energy Associates looks to answer one of its most-asked questions in a new case study.

Wisconsin farmers to receive record-breaking support this year from USDA, NBC26

BIDEN’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLANS & AMERICA’S WORKFORCE

Biden Has Ambitious Infrastructure Plans. But A Worker Shortage Could Hinder Them, NPR
“We were having trouble finding skilled workers for construction jobs, water and energy utilities, telecom and broadband expansions – all the areas where we think this infrastructure bill was going to be investing even before the pandemic. – Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition

GRID INFRASTRUCTURE – NEW ACORE REPORT 

Transmission Makes the Grid Resilient to Extreme Weather, T&D World
New report released by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). ‘Transmission Makes the Power System Resilient to Extreme Weather’, details the value additional transmission would have provided during five severe weather events in Texas, the Northeast and the Midwest between 2014 and 2021. 

PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON INFRASTRUCTURE

Report Card for America’s Infrastructure
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report  card—assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement.

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan, The White House Briefing Room
Statement about America’s manufacturing infrastructure:
The U.S. manufacturing sector accounts for 70 percent of business R&D expenditure, 30 percent of productivity growth, and 60 percent of exports. Manufacturing is a critical node that helps convert research and innovation into sustained economic growth . . . While manufacturing jobs have been a ladder to middle-class life, we have let our industrial heartland be hollowed out, with quality jobs moving abroad or to regions with lower wages and fewer protections for workers.

FACT SHEET: Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda Present Bright Future for Solar Power, Good Jobs, and More Affordable Energy

The White House Briefing Room, August 17, 2021

Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a new issue brief that details a bright future for solar power, good jobs, and affordable energy in the United States. President Biden’s proposed investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal and Build Back Better Agenda will invest in the infrastructure, manufacturing, innovation, and incentives for solar energy that we need to grow good-paying, union jobs at home, make solar energy affordable for all American families, and accelerate the deployment of net-zero energy across the country. These critical investments will unlock the full potential of solar and help fight the climate crisis. Continue reading here.

Read the full brief: Investing in the Clean Energy Future: Solar Energy Research, Deployment, and Workforce Priorities

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Here’s What’s In The Democrats’ $3.5 Trillion Budget Resolution

By Dana Farrington and Barbara Sprunt, NPR / KIOS

The Senate narrowly endorsed a $3.5 trillion budget resolution early Wednesday morning in a 50-49 party-line vote. The sweeping Democratic plan includes major investments in climate initiatives, the expansion of Medicare and the extension of the child tax credit.

The price tag is currently set at $3.5 trillion. The plan calls for the investments to be offset by a combination of new tax revenues, health care savings and long-term economic growth. It calls for raising money through IRS enforcement and proposes a new fee on carbon pollution. The plan prohibits tax increases on families making under $400,000 a year, small businesses and family farms. Read more here.

See Also: U.S. Department Of The Treasury: The Made In America Tax Plan (PDF)

Additional Recommended Reading 

WATCH: Biden, Harris give remarks at White House following passage of bipartisan infrastructure plan

Associated Press / PBS News Hour 

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a robust vote after weeks of fits and starts, the Senate approved a $1 trillion infrastructure plan for states coast to coast on Tuesday, as a rare coalition of Democrats and Republicans came together to overcome skeptics and deliver a cornerstone of President Joe Biden’s agenda.

“Today, we proved that democracy can still work,” Biden declared at the White House, taking note of the 69-30 vote that included even Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Continue reading or watch the video here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM