County can benefit from federal energy community funding plans | Local News

The $ 23 million that Indiana County and its municipalities get from the US Rescue Program may not be the last aid the federal program provides to our region.

“There are many other dollars and other sources of funding, one of which is the Department of Economic Development’s $ 3 billion funding,” Indiana County Commissioner Sherene Hess said at a board meeting last week. It’s an opportunity. “

“And that $ 300 million is for communities that have historically lost jobs related to coal and power plants,” Hess continued in a comment towards the end of the July 28 meeting. ..

A few days ago, US Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Lymond said her department’s Department of Economic Development would carry out a series called “Investing in the American Community.” “We will equitably invest $ 3 billion received from President Biden’s US Rescue Planning Act to help rebuild communities across the country,” Lymond said.

The $ 300 million comes from that $ 3 billion, the $ 100 million of the EDA’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge Fund, and the $ 200 million of the EDA’s Economic Adjustment Assistance Fund to directly support the coal community.

It doesn’t take long to decide how the money will be distributed. In a fact sheet on July 22, EDA said it would soon be notified of funding opportunities for each of its set of challenges.

He said all funding for the US rescue program must be awarded by September 2022.

Within the target community, EDA said it could provide American Rescue Plan grants to state and local government agencies, higher education institutions, nonprofits, and indigenous peoples.

However, EDA said it is not allowed to provide grants to individuals or commercial organizations.

Hess said NETL “coordinates several workshops on how to access these funds, is competitive and seeks Indiana County’s opinion on this,” with the County Commissioner. County Economic Development Team.

“It will actually be a very busy few years to deploy these funds in the best possible way, in a fair way and in a way that helps us become more resilient.” Hess told a colleague.

Inter-ministerial working groups, including various federal cabinet departments and the National Institute of Energy Technology of the U.S. Department of Energy, have 25 priorities, including part of the Appalachian region extending from Kentucky and West Virginia to the tri-state area around Pittsburgh. Invented “Energy Community”. To the western end of New York.

Others involved in EDA and NETL in its working group include the Office of Management and Budget’s National Policy Council, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Appalachian Regional Commission, and Education, Transportation, Health and Welfare Services, Labor, Agriculture, Interiors. , Ministry of Finance and commerce.

According to its working group, the “energy community” is the top 25 areas of the Bureau of Labor Statistics related to major coal professions. They are ranked in order of total direct coal employment to all employees in each BLS area.

The region labeled “Western Pennsylvania Non-Metropolitan Area” is listed 25th on the “Geographical Diversity” list. Indiana County is located in the area.

The contest will be attended by several regions not far from Indiana County. The top of the “Energy Community” list is the non-metropolitan areas of southern West Virginia, followed by the non-metropolitan areas of eastern Kentucky, and around Wheeling in Panhandle, northern West Virginia, and part of eastern Ohio. ..

Then Southwest Virginia non-metropolitan area, Alaska non-metropolitan area, West Kentucky non-metropolitan area, Bremerton-Silverdale, Washington, East Wyoming, West Wyoming, Arizona, Northwest Virginia (including Morgantown) non-major cities The sphere continues. ), Southern Illinois, Central Utah, South Indiana, Lexington Park, CA-Maryland, and Farmington, New Mexico.

The list concludes with the non-metropolitan areas of northeastern Virginia and western North Dakota, Greeley, Colorado, College Station-Bryan, Texas, non-metropolitan areas of southwestern Alabama, Grand Junction, Colorado, and Beckley, West Virginia. And Charleston, and the West. Pennsylvania.

NETL includes facilities in Bruston, a suburb of South Hills, Pittsburgh, Morgantown, West Virginia, Oregon.

At a webinar on Thursday, NETL director Dr. Brian J. Anderson said the amount of electricity produced from coal has dropped from 52% to less than 25%.

Craig Buerstatte, Deputy Assistant Secretary of EDA, pointed out the strong manufacturing sites found in these communities.

Other possibilities detailed in the webinar included travel, tourism and outdoor recreation.

“There is no magic formula as long as it fits within our general framework,” says Buerstatte.

The EDA will also support these communities through support initiatives for coal communities and will be impacted by reduced coal use through activities and programs that support economic diversification, job creation, fixed investment, workforce development, and re-support. We are awarding competitive funding to support the receiving communities. Employment opportunities.

The Working Group was established on January 27, in President Joseph Biden’s Executive Order 14008, “Feeling the Climate Crisis at Home and abroad.”

“We need to coordinate the identification and provision of federal resources to revitalize the economy of coal, oil, gas, and power plant communities,” Biden said. Implement the policies set out in Section 217 of this Order to develop strategies for economic and social recovery. Evaluate opportunities to ensure the interests and protection of coal and power plant workers. It then regularly submits reports to the National Climate Advisor and the White House Chief of Staff in charge of economic policy on the progress of revitalization efforts. “

For more information on the “Energy Community” initiative, please visit the following URL. www.eda.gov/ARPA..

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