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The Decarbonization Race

Apr 3, 2023

To decarbonize the world, ensuring all homeowners and communities can play a role in adopting clean energy is critical. Under the Biden Administration’s Justice40 initiative, the U.S. federal government is directing 40 percent of certain funds and programs at helping low-income and historically excluded communities scale up renewables and energy storage locally.

Why those communities? Because low-income households typically have higher energy burdens - meaning they pay a larger amount of their income to their utility bill than the majority of other households.

Nicole Steele serves as a Senior Advisor for two federal agencies in key areas - leading programs like the National Community Solar Partnership at the U.S. Department of Energy and guiding deployment of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund at the Environmental Protection Agency. Across her career, she has been working to bring clean energy deployment into low-income communities, to grow their use of clean energy and reduce their energy costs, and train new additions to the solar power workforce in the process.

In this episode, Nicole shares stories and experiences with Lincoln from the frontline of these efforts - including the range of instruments helping make it happen like financing products and community solar subscriptions - and how we can all play our part.

Key Takeaways:

  1. The Inflation Reduction Act created a huge pool of resources to help communities adopt clean energy, but the EPA is continuing to fine-tune the approach to make sure communities most in need are being heard and made aware of opportunities. To do that, the EPA has already held a nationwide RFI process and continues to hold town hall listening sessions to ensure communities can discuss their needs.
  2. The goal of $7 billion of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund is to deploy residential or community solar and/or storage in disadvantaged and low-income communities. This is part the administration's goal to make the building sector decarbonized by 2035, and the economy by 2050.
  3. Programs at both the EPA and DOE are part of the Justice40 initiative - the product of an executive order requiring that a minimum of 40% of the benefits of certain programs flow to disadvantaged communities.