The Biden Administration on Tuesday made $450 million available for clean energy projects at the site of current or former coal mines.
Up to five brand new projects, at least two of which will be solar farms, will be funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that Biden signed in 2021.
The aim of the new projects is to “create jobs, lower costs, and invest in the energy communities that powered this nation for generations,” according to the White House.
The Administration says that approximately 17,750 mine land sites are located across 1.5 million acres in the U.S., “which expose local populations to harmful pollutants and contaminate the air, land, and water quality in the surrounding areas.”
In repurposing this land for clean energy projects, “up to 90 GW of clean energy” can be generated—”enough to power nearly 30 million American homes,” the White House said.
At least two of the new clean energy projects are targeted for Jackson County, West Virginia and Kemmerer, Wyoming.
The new projects were announced even as West Virginia’s Sen. Joe Manchin (D), Chair of the Senate Energy Committee, has been decrying the Biden Administration as anti-coal.
“Mr. Biden was elected to lead us all to solve problems,” Manchin wrote in a March 29 Wall Street Journal op-ed. He accused the White House of “ignoring the law’s intent to support and expand fossil energy” as well as “redefining ‘domestic energy’ to increase clean-energy spending to potentially deficit-breaking levels.”
However, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, whose agency will oversee the new clean energy program, said this week, “It’s very clear that…the workers who powered the last century of industry and innovation can power the next one.″
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the new plan provides a bonus investment credit of up to 10% for clean energy production—if employers pay workers prevailing wages and use a sufficient proportion of apprentices on the job.
“These provisions will ensure that workers in energy communities reap the benefits of the clean energy economy they are helping to build,″ Yellen said.
The new bonuses are being offered in addition to investment and production tax credits available through the Inflation Reduction Act, which was passed by Congress in August and signed by Biden soon after.