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DOE Offers Up To $16 Million To Assist Communities With Development Of Energy Plans

September 28, 2021

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
September 28, 2021

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Sept. 15 launched a pilot program that will provide supportive services valued at up to $16 million to help communities develop locally driven energy plans.

The Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP) program is available to assist to up to 36 low-income communities and energy-burdened communities “that are either experiencing environmental justice concerns or direct economic impacts from the shift away from historical reliance on fossil fuels,” DOE said.

Communities participating in Communities LEAP will develop an initial roadmap for identifying clean energy economic development pathways or accelerate progress toward existing plans for clean energy development projects.

Communities LEAP participants will receive support jointly offered by five DOE offices to pursue local energy action plans that focus on one or more of the following opportunities:

Creating Pathways For Large-Scale Clean Energy Project Planning And Infrastructure

Action plans can include design implementation and/or investment strategies for renewable energy projects that meet local environmental, economic, or community priorities and, where possible, quantifies benefits to community (e.g., energy bill savings, reduce pollution, improve energy access, revenue streams).

Among other activities, DOE anticipates providing selected communities with an analysis of clean energy planning and development opportunities based on current infrastructure, workforce availability, energy resource potential, utility regulatory structure. Projects could include technologies such as solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, hybrid power plants, energy storage, energy efficiency, distributed energy resources, and EV charging stations.

Evaluating The Ability To Use Microgrids To Increase Community Resilience

DOE will provide community partners with analysis and assistance to determine how they can install backup power under grid emergencies to ensure local critical facilities can maintain services for public health and safety and to keep a steady power supply available for local industries, businesses, and economic development zones.

Creating Job Opportunities In Fossil Fuel Communities Or Those Home To Heavy Industries

Action plans can evaluate Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) opportunities or develop a plan for energy site reclamation, critical mineral extraction, and/or create an environmental reclamation workforce program to train new or displaced workers that will assist in remediating environmental hazards from coal extraction and/or use.

Planning For Clean Transportation Investments

DOE’s partners will work with community stakeholders to assess the local transportation system, identify community transportation needs, and determine plan objectives (e.g., decarbonization, air quality improvement, community access to transportation, workforce development, increase electric vehicle charging availability, assess grid capacity for transportation electrification).

Improving Building Energy Efficiency

DOE’s technical assistance providers will work with community stakeholders to assess the current building stock and power supply, identify building-related load management needs and opportunities for energy and cost savings, and determine additional community priorities such as reducing energy bills for residents and businesses, increasing building and community resilience and sustainability, improving the health of indoor environments, and developing new workforce opportunities.

Enhancing Investments In The Clean Energy Supply Chain

Selected communities can receive assistance to engage with existing local manufacturing facilities on energy performance to lower emissions and reduce waste; identify how local strengths – such as natural resources or existing manufacturing infrastructure or capabilities – could play a role in manufacturing new clean energy technologies. 

DOE is accepting comments until October 12 on the content of the opportunity announcement through emails addressed to: CommunitiesLEAPInfo@hq.doe.gov.

Applications are due December 17 and selections are expected to be announced in March 2022.

Additional information is available here.

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