Local leaders to use federal funds for clean energy projects

With the recent passage of the federal Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, local leaders are making plans to help cut pollution, improve energy efficiency for those in need and accelerate the transition to clean energy.

DeKalb County Commissioner Ted Terry and Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett were joined by others working on clean energy projects at the Decatur Recreation Center on April 11 to discuss how they will implement funding as it begins to flow into Georgia.

“I am thrilled to celebrate these historic federal clean energy investments that will advance our plans to cut pollution, lower our operational costs, and lower energy costs for our communities,” said Garrett. “Decatur has ambitious sustainability goals to meet in the coming years, including a total transition to clean energy for our municipal and community buildings. Also, weatherization efforts that reduce energy usage are key to meeting our targets and making our communities more resilient to a changing climate.”

Garrett, Terry and others also discussed how those in need would be targeted to receive home repairs and upgrades in conjunction with the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) which, according to the U.S. Department of Energy website, reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes.

“Today, we’re shining a light on a critical component of Georgia’s plans to significantly reduce our energy consumption and create a lifeline for many through efficient, effective home weatherization,” said Terry. “The expansion of programs like WAP will have a profound impact on those communities that are on the front lines of a housing crisis and facing increasing costs to cool and heat their homes.”

Weatherization also helps to mitigate the sometimes-deadly impacts of extreme weather, stated officials.

“As residents of the Atlanta metro area brace for extreme heat this spring and summer, it’s more important than ever to maximize these critical investments to weatherize our communities, make cooling systems more energy efficient, and mitigate the impacts of extreme weather,” said Rev. William Flippin Jr. “Weatherization is a critical tool in the fight against climate change. It improves the health and well-being of our communities by reducing greenhouse pollutants, and it is a cost-effective way to reduce energy consumption. Legislation that expands and makes these energy efficiency efforts accessible to all is the inclusive and expansive approach that we need to meet the climate change challenge.”

According to The White House website, the Inflation Reduction Act provides the Environmental Protection Agency with $27 billion to award competitive grants to mobilize financing and leverage private capital for clean energy and climate projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, with an emphasis on projects that benefit low-income and disadvantaged households.

Officials did not provide a total amount of the federal funding that will go toward projects in DeKalb County. “For local disbursements, it’s really up to cities and counties to apply for these grants through agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency,” said Terry. “DeKalb County is working on its own climate action plan right now, which is key to accessing these funds.”

For more information, visit https://www.energy.gov/scep/office-state-and-community-energy-programs.

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