With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law of 2021 (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA), the Congress and the Biden Administration passed a historic package of infrastructure and climate legislation. Many of these federal investments are already at work in Appalachia, and the good news is that there are still significant opportunities for communities to get substantial federal funding for redevelopment and job creation. New funding sources also emphasize community involvement, economic and environmental justice, and family-sustaining wages. 

Finding and accessing these sources is not easy and can be overwhelming. Our goal is to assist with that in the following sections. First, we will introduce search engines that help you find funding opportunities for your project. Next, we will discuss some relevant federal and state funding options that support coal plant redevelopment projects, programs and capital that supports community planning and community development.

1. Overview

Different Types of Federal Funding - An Overview

The federal government as well as state governments provide tax credits, loan and loan guarantee programs, as well as grant programs for local governments, economic development entities, developers and other stakeholders to apply for. Each funding type has its advantages and disadvantages to consider. For instance, many (but not all) tax credits are noncompetitive, but filing all needed documents on time and correctly can be complicated. Working with a tax expert is advisable. Grants for community planning and those for program implementation are often competitive, meaning not everybody gets the funding they apply for. Many grants also require a match, that is, communities need to contribute their own money (percentage of the match varies) to receive the grant. Public financing support through low-interest, long term loans and loan guarantees is provided on a case-by-case basis and can be tailored to projects, but will make up only a part of the financing for developers coming to your coal plant site.

Watch: Federal Funding Driving Manufacturing and Economic Development in Energy Communities Webinar

NEW FEDERAL FUNDING SOURCES FOR REDEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

The last few years brought the passage of important federal legislation, such as the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and the CHIPS and Science Act. The goal of the legislation is to improve our infrastructure, invest in clean energy, support small businesses and strengthen our manufacturing sector and national security. The BIL and the IRA especially offer incentives for the redevelopment of retired coal power plants and their communities.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (find the legislation here) funds hundreds of programs to build a modern and resilient infrastructure. Among other things the funding streams will be modernizing the power grid, expanding broadband services, building an improved and more climate-friendly transportation system, and tackling the clean up of legacy pollution in our communities.

The Inflation Reduction Act

The Inflation Reduction Act (find the legislation here) makes the single largest investment ever in a new clean energy economy including tax credits and funding for clean energy, clean vehicles, clean buildings, and clean manufacturing. Funding streams can go to a host of applicants, from families who can use tax provisions to make their homes more energy efficient, to local governments, to private investors turning a shuttered coal plant into a solar farm.

A FOCUS ON ENERGY COMMUNITIES

Source: Blue Green Alliance, “Investments in Energy Communities”

These new laws provide additional funding in several important programs for projects done in so-called “energy communities.” “Energy community” is a technical term created by the federal government with detailed definitions given in the BIL and IRA. Broadly speaking, “energy communities” have been dependent on fossil fuel industries and suffer or have suffered economic loss as the new energy economy emerges.

Since “energy communities” are given extra funding under the new legislation,  Appalachian communities have an unprecedented opportunity to use those funds to create good jobs while transitioning to a more sustainable, prosperous and equitable economy.

It is important to note that the definition of an “energy community” differs depending on the funding opportunity. For definitions of “energy community” check the Blue-Green Alliance website, connected in the map.

The Internal Revenue Service also provides information on how areas may qualify as an “energy community”, depending on different federal funding programs.

DEFINITIONS OF DISADVANTAGED COMMUNITIES

Next to “energy communities,” the BIL and IRA also aim to support disadvantaged communities with special grant programs and additional clean energy tax credits. Again, the specific term and definition of a disadvantaged community varies from program to program which, frankly, adds another level of complexity when navigating potential funding opportunities. Other terms you might encounter are Justice40 community, low-income and disadvantaged community (LIDAC), or underserved and overburdened community. Whichever term is used, many Central Appalachian communities qualify as such, and you should check the programs’ definition (and map if available) to determine whether your community or project are eligible for programs or additional tax credits for disadvantaged communities.

2. Funding Trackers

Search Engines for Federal Loans, Grants and Other Financial Assistance

INTERAGENCY WORKING GROUP ON COAL AND POWER PLANT COMMUNITIES AND ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION (IWG)

Federal agencies are working together to coordinate efforts, attention and focus on building the new energy economy in energy communities.  The agencies coordinate through an office called The Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities & Economic Revitalization or Interagency Working Group (IWG) for short. Among other things,  the IWG offers a search engine for federal financial support for redevelopment of fossil fuel sites and development of the community. The easily-used database is for energy communities looking for funding opportunities connected to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), and other legislation for planning and growing the local economy.

Watch: IWG Clearinghouse Demonstration

The search engine offers four search tools categorized by type of funding program:

Competitive

Competitive Funding is available to eligible recipients who submit an application for a funding opportunity. Each application is reviewed through a competitive evaluation process and awardees are selected based on the merits of their application and alignment with the agency’s mission.

Formula

Formula: Under some programs, the federal government provides funding to a category of governments (like to states, or tribes, or schools) based on a mathematical formula that calculates need, using measures such as population, poverty levels or unemployment. The receiving government may reallocate the funds.

Tax Credit

Tax Credits reduce the amount of tax an individual or business owes to the federal government. The Inflation Reduction Act created new tax credits and modified existing tax credits to help incentivize clean energy technologies and to be a vehicle for fostering economic opportunities, private investment, and job creation in energy communities. Several IRA tax credits also provide a bonus for energy communities.

Funding Clearinghouse

The Funding Clearinghouse allows tracking across all categories. It lists over 600 funding opportunities across the federal government – beyond the new programs authorized by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act.

To make sure that you don’t miss a funding opportunity, we would recommend to always start your search with the Funding Clearinghouse search tool. This comprehensive tool can be found here.

All IWG’s search engines include filters helping users to narrow their search. In addition to searching by keyword, the primary filters include:

  • Status, letting users search for funding opportunities that are currently open, planned or closed.
  • Funding type (e.g. grant, loan, technical assistance), 
  • Funding source (e.g. BIL, IRA, ongoing appropriation), or
  • Program purpose (e.g. economic development, environmental clean-up), and eligible recipients (e.g. local government(s), non-profit(s)).

IWG NAVIGATOR

If you need help navigating federal agencies and their funding opportunities for energy communities, you can contact the IWG’s navigator team. A team member will get back to you within two business days and will keep in touch with you if your inquiry needs additional research. You can contact the navigator team here.

If you want to check other federal funding trackers, ReImagine Appalachia introduces four trackers (including the IWG tracker) in this blog post.

3. Redevelopment Programs

Programs for Coal Plant Redevelopment

Disclaimer: All tax credit information given on this website is a mere introduction into a complex issue; the intent is to help communities decide which path to pursue in regard to tax credits. This information does not replace expert advice from a professional tax/financial planner or the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

TAX CREDITS

Tax Credits offset the tax bill for developers and businesses. In so doing, they reduce the overall cost of development and make a project easier to finance and move forward. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) enacted several clean energy tax credits; here, we introduce four tax credits developers and businesses will look to as they work on shuttered coal plant sites:

THE INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT

The Investment Tax Credit (ITC) (§ 48 and 48E of the IRA) provides a credit for investments in renewable energy projects, such as solar, small wind, energy storage, fuel cells, microgrid controllers, and combined heat and power properties. The ITC is for the owner of the clean energy asset. It provides a one-time tax credit on the investment of an energy-related asset during the tax year. As an example, the taxpayer invests in a solar project upfront and claims their tax credit on the investment when filing for their taxes. The ITC can increase its credit by five times (from 6% to 30%) when the project meets prevailing wage and registered apprenticeship requirements. An additional Energy Tax Credit Bonus of 10 percentage point is added on for projects located in designated energy communities as defined by the government.

IWG - Investment Tax Credit for Energy Property

THE PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT

The Production Tax Credit (PTC) (§ 45 and 45Y of the IRA) provides tax credits for a 10-year period for the electricity produced from renewable energy sources. The PTC is for the owner of the clean energy asset. An applicant can only apply for either the ITC or the PTC for the same project, but not for both.  Deciding which tax credit is more beneficial needs to be done on a case-by-case basis. Generally speaking, an ITC makes more sense for smaller projects, while a PTC is more beneficial for larger projects. The PTC can increase their credit by five times (from 6% to 30%) when the project meets prevailing wage and registered apprenticeship requirements. An additional Energy Tax Credit Bonus of 10 percent is added on for projects located in designated energy communities as defined by the government.

IWG - Production Tax Credit for Electricity from Renewables

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT

Advanced Manufacturing Production Tax Credit – (§ 45X of the IRA)  – The 45X Advanced Manufacturing Production Tax Credit applies to manufacturers of clean energy components such as Photovoltaic components, batteries and certain critical minerals. It is a per-unit tax credit for each clean energy component domestically produced and sold by a manufacturer. It is claimed on federal corporate income taxes. There is no special consideration of energy communities. For more information, please check here.

THE QUALIFYING ADVANCED ENERGY PROJECT CREDIT

The Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit  – The Qualifying Advanced Energy Project Credit (§ 48C of the IRA) program aims to advance clean energy manufacturing and recycling projects, and to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Inflation Reduction Act provided $10 billion in new funding under the 48C tax credit, with at least $4 billion reserved for projects in designated energy communities. Projects selected under this tax credit span across large, medium, and small businesses and state and local governments. 

This is a tax credit that is competitive. Applications for the tax credit were accepted through June 21, 2024. The funds under the Section 48C tax credit program will be exhausted with this round of funding, but this is a popular program that could be added to incoming federal budget bills.

MISCELLANEOUS TAX CREDITS FOR CLEAN TECH AND CLEAN ENERGY

For a comprehensive list of IRA clean energy tax credits and deductions, check this IRS website of “Credits and Deductions under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.”

IRS.gov - Credits and Deductions Under the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022

ELECTIVE PAY (DIRECT PAY) OPTION FOR INFLATION REDUCTION ACT TAX CREDITS:

Under several IRA tax credits (see list here) state and local governments as well as other tax-exempt entities can now access those clean energy tax credits under a provision called elective or direct pay. This is a new provision under the Inflation Reduction Act allowing tax-exempt entities to finally receive the same benefits as businesses when investing in clean energy. For more information on direct pay, check this post on the Sabin Center Blog.

LOAN PROGRAMS

Federal (and state) loan and loan guarantee programs are another option for financing the redevelopment of a shuttered coal power plant, especially when private loans are difficult to receive. On the federal level, the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office (LPO) is a public lender offering debt financing for energy and manufacturing projects. The LPO works with the private sector to provide a “bridge to bankability,” that is, they help finance clean energy projects at scale to demonstrate that these projects can be commercially deployable in the United States.

For your projects please contact:  Tom Hucker, Senior Consultant  |  Loan Programs Office (LPO). | U.S. Department of Energy

Mobile:  240-481-4825  |  Email:  [email protected]

State and local governments, port authorities, economic development districts and other quasi-pubic development entities may offer low-cost capital support for redevelopment of retired coal plant sites.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY – LPO’s TITLE 17 CLEAN ENERGY FINANCING PROGRAM

Under its Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program, the LPO has access to tens of billions of dollars in financing support that can help the redevelopment of shuttered coal power plants in Appalachia and beyond. The goal of the program is to accelerate the deployment of clean energy and decarbonization projects resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions and decreased air pollution. This will create jobs and strengthen energy supply chains.

Program Categories: There are four project categories for which businesses or governments can apply within the Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program:

Financing for commercial-scale projects that deploy a “New or Significantly Improved Technology that is technically proven but not yet widely commercialized in the United States.” 

Financing for commercial-scale projects that employ a “New or Significantly Improved Technology in the manufacturing process for a qualifying clean energy technology, or manufacture a New or Significantly Improved Technology.”

Entities selected as SEFI can use federal funds under this program to match clean energy technology projects they finance. Lists of  “eligible projects” include many new technologies; prerequisites include that the project deploys at least one or more eligible technologies such as pollution control equipment, energy storage technologies, or industrial decarbonization. The technology does not have to be innovative. State Energy Financing Institutions (SEFI) in Central Appalachia include:

Note that the list of State Energy Financing Institutions is far from complete. The LPO encourages organizations to become a SEFI to help provide financial support or credit enhancement for clean energy projects that do not meet the technical innovation requirement. The LPO has a State Energy Financing Institution (SEFI) toolkit explaining the steps qualified state organizations need to take to become a SEFI. For further information regarding the toolkit, check here.

Financing for projects that “retool, repower, repurpose, or replace existing energy infrastructure (facilities used for electric generation or transmission, or facilities used for fossil fuel-related production, processing, and delivery) that has ceased operations; or enable operating energy infrastructure to avoid, reduce, utilize, or sequester air pollutants or emissions of greenhouse gasses. EIR projects are not required to employ innovative technology.” 

LPO’s goals of the Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment Program:

Program Characteristics: Generally speaking, loan and loan guarantees offered under the DOE’s LPO Title 17 Program have these basic characteristics (Program Guidance)

Size

A project funded through the DOE Loan Program Office (LPO) does not have to be above a minimum loan size, although typically a LPO loan guarantee is no less than $100 million. The program can provide subsidized loan funds for very large projects.

Terms

The program can guarantee up to 80 percent of eligible project costs, though many LPO guaranteed projects end up being in the 50 to 70 percent range. The term may be up to 30 years or the life of the asset. 

Eligibility

Eligibility requirements include:

  • a project must be energy related,
  • it must achieve significant and credible greenhouse gas reductions, and 
  • it must involve technically viable and commercially ready technology. 
  • It must include a Community Benefits Plan
  • It does not accept federal grants as a match in most cases

Process

The LPO will help with no-cost pre-application consultation assisting applicants to get their project eligible for financing. Here is an overview of the entire application process:

Additional Resource: “Federal Support Opportunities to Remediate and Redevelop Energy Assets” Report

This report, published by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, outlines how the Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program, IRA clean energy tax credits and federal brownfield grants can be combined to finance the redevelopment of energy infrastructure, such as a shuttered coal power plant.

In 2023, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory published a report “Federal Support Opportunities to Remediate and Redevelop Energy Assets” which outlines how the Department of Energy’s Loan Program Office Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program can be coordinated with IRA tax credits and federal brownfield grants to help redevelop or repurpose energy infrastructure. 

USDA ELECTRIC INFRASTRUCTURE LOAN & LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM

The US Department of Agriculture’s Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program supports nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies, and other utilities with insured loans and loan guarantees in rural communities (check eligibility requirements). The electric loan program has been expanded and now finances the construction of electric distribution, transmission, and generation facilities. It can also be used to finance energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. Rural Development’s Electric Infrastructure Loan Programs provide financing support through loans and loan-guarantees “for the maintenance and improvement of electric infrastructure in areas where commercial capital is not available.”

For instance, in 2023 USDA invested in four Ohio projects that helped to expand and modernize the electric grid and to enhance grid security. Among other things, the loan supported rural electric cooperatives by financing the installation and upgrade of smart grid technologies increasing economic opportunity and quality of life in rural Ohio. You can find more information about the program here.

GRANT PROGRAMS

Grants (and cooperative agreements) give federal money for public or community purposes. The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and particularly the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) fund a host of different grant programs, from transportation and infrastructure projects to projects addressing pollution and environmental justice. Many of those grants are competitive and applicants need to closely follow application requirements as well as reporting (and other)  requirements once a grant is awarded. Also, check the application windows and deadlines for the grant programs since many grants accept applications only once a year. Finally, grants often don’t fund the entire cost of the project but require a cost share from the applicants in order to receive the grant. In some cases, a cost share is not required or might be waived; always closely check the application requirements before you apply.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS IN RURAL AND REMOTE AREAS

The Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program aims “to improve the resilience, reliability, and affordability of energy systems in communities across the country with 10,000 or fewer people.” Through the ERA program, communities can receive financial investment, technical assistance, and other resources to advance community-driven projects that apply new energy systems and deliver measurable benefits to customers. Eligible projects include:

  • Overall cost-effectiveness of energy generation, transmission, or distribution systems;
  • Siting or upgrading transmission and distribution lines;
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions from energy generation by rural or remote areas;
  • Providing or modernizing electric generation facilities;
  • Developing microgrids; and
  • Increasing energy efficiency.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $1 billion in funding for the ERA program; it offers three funding opportunities with the intent to support community-driven new energy projects of various sizes. Two funding opportunities provide support for small community-driven projects (between $100K and $5 million per project), and the third funding opportunity supports projects that benefit one or more communities (17 projects for award negotiations have been selected for $366 million in funding).

For more information regarding the program, please check hereFor no-cost technical assistance for State, Local, and Tribal Governments regarding ERA, please check here

4. Exhausted Programs

Federal Programs with Exhausted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or Inflation Reduction Act Funding

The new infrastructure and climate legislation created several programs that specifically support investments in communities with retired energy assets such as a shuttered coal power plant. However, funding for those programs is limited and funds have been fully spent already due to popular demand. We still introduce those programs here since the appropriation of future funding is always a possibility.

DOE's Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program

The Department of Energy’s $750 million Advanced Energy Manufacturing and Recycling Grant Program  was specifically designed for manufacturing projects located in communities where coal mines or coal power plants have been closed. The Program provided grant funding to small- and medium-sized manufacturers enabling them “to build new or retrofit existing manufacturing and industrial facilities. These facilities will produce or recycle advanced energy products or contribute to emission reductions within the manufacturing sector.”  The application process for the second and, as of now, final round of funding is currently underway. The deadline for concept papers has already passed and the DOE will not accept full applications without a concept paper. We will update this resource if and when the program will be reopened.

DOE's Capacity Building for Repurposing Energy Assets

The Capacity Building for Repurposing Energy Assets Program is a competitive award that supports communities with significant retired or retiring energy assets, such as a coal-fired power plant, in capacity building and workforce development planning. With the award, communities have access to a staffer whose primary responsibility is to coordinate and plan the sustainable redevelopment of the community’s energy asset. Thus, this grant assists communities to put down a plan and make connections to get the actual redevelopment process started. The application window for the Capacity Building for Repurposing Energy Assets Program is currently closed; you can learn more about the program here

During the last round of funding, four Central Appalachian projects (out of eight) received a $100,000 award each. One of them went to the Beaver County Corporation for Economic Development in early 2024 to help develop the multi-hundred-acre Shippingport Industrial Park (the former Bruce Mansfield Power Plant site). You can learn more about the award and the Shippingport Industrial Park here

USDA’s Empowering Rural America (New ERA) Program

The goal of the US Department of Agriculture’s Empowering Rural (NEW ERA) program is to help rural Americans transition to clean, affordable, and reliable energy. New ERA program funding is available to member-owned rural electric cooperatives, which play an important role in many areas of Appalachia. 

The program offers loans, grants, or a combination of both and its emphasis is greenhouse gas reduction and not the promotion of a specific technology. With this flexible approach rural electric cooperatives can, for instance, seek funding for renewable and zero-emission systems that eliminate aging or obsolete infrastructure such as a shuttered coal or gas power plant. New ERA’s budget is almost $10 billion, and applicants are encouraged to think ambitiously. The program’s goal is to usher rural electric co-ops into a transition to clean energy, and with its existing infrastructure for transmission and transportation access, shuttered coal power plants are a prime location to make this transition happen. For more information about the New ERA program check here.  

6. Brownfields

Brownfield Remediation and Redevelopment

With the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the EPA’s Brownfield Program received a major increase in grant funding that can assist with reclamation costs. Eligible entities can receive a host of different grants as well as technical assistance when it comes to brownfields. Recipients are subject to Build America, Buy America standards .

“Under limited circumstances, EPA brownfields assessment grants may be available for state, municipal and tribal organizations if these organizations have access to abandoned power plants. EPA brownfields cleanup grants are not available to owners of closed power plants if the owner is a private party or if the owner is determined to be the party responsible for any contamination at the property. In most cases, and particularly in cases where decommissioned power plants (or waste management units located at these plants) are permitted under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the private party owner is responsible for implementing and paying for corrective actions to address environmental contamination and taking actions to close or decommission all operating units at the plant.”

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE

Assessment Grants

Assessment Grants assist with brownfield inventories, planning, environmental assessments and community outreach. Assessment grants are generally geared towards communities and other local government entities. These grants are appropriate for communities that are beginning to address their brownfield challenges, as well as for communities that have ongoing efforts to bring sites into productive reuse. Applicants may request up to $500,000 to assess sites contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants, or petroleum. The performance period is up to 4 years. A $2 million community-wide assessment is only available to states, federally recognized Tribal Nations and eligible native corporations in Alaska for up to 5 years.

Clean-Up Grants

Clean-Up Grants fund the clean-up of a brownfield. Applicants must own the brownfield site to be eligible. Performance period is up to 4 years. Applicants may request up to $500,000, up to $2 million or up to $5 million to address one or more brownfield sites contaminated by hazardous substances, pollutants, contaminants or petroleum.

Multipurpose Grants

Multipurpose Grants address brownfield assessment, brownfield clean up, and/or the revitalization of the brownfield site/s. When clean-up is part of the project, the applicant must be the site/s owner. The target area may not include communities in distinctly different geographic areas. Applicants can apply for up to $1 million and should demonstrate how grant funds will result in at least one of the following: Phase II environmental site assessment, site cleanup, overall revitalization that includes a feasible reuse plan for one site, eligibility determinations for site-specific assessment and cleanup activities will be made after award and throughout the project period. Grant recipients may be required to provide a $40,000 match in the form of a contribution of money, labor, materials or services for eligible costs. (Note: EPA has waived cost share requirements for MAC Grants in FY24 per the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.) Performance period is up to 5 years.

Revolving Loan Fund

Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) This program provides funding for a grant recipient to capitalize a revolving loan fund and to provide loans and subgrants to carry out cleanup activities at brownfield sites. When loans are repaid, the loan amount is returned to the fund and re-lent to other borrowers, providing an ongoing source of capital within a community.

Job Training Grants

Job Training Grants allow nonprofits, local governments and other organizations to recruit and train unemployed and underemployed residents in areas affected by the presence of brownfield sites to secure full-time, sustainable employment in various aspects of hazardous and solid waste management and within the larger environmental field, including sustainable cleanup and reuse and chemical safety.

EPA TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

7. Community Programs

Programs Supporting Community and Small Business Development

The coal plant itself is probably not the only element that the community will envision for redevelopment.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S ENERGY IMPROVEMENTS IN RURAL AND REMOTE AREAS

The federal government has expanded capital support for community and small business development through the U.S. EPA Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. 

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF) is a $27 billion federal investment that will support clean energy projects “to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; reduce other air pollutants; deliver benefits to communities; meet the requirement that it may not have otherwise been financed; mobilize private capital; and support only commercial technologies.”  It includes the following  program categories:

EPA funding has established new institutions to expand clean technology projects in community development and small business, housing, and expanded green banking. The focus is on  low-income and disadvantaged communities. These nationwide institutions can play an important role in community and regional development that should accompany the redevelopment of a shuttered coal plant site.

Coalition for Green Capital

The Coalition for Green Capital’s $5 billion program has particular emphasis on raising funds for and creating green banks and lending programs. It will be participating in public-private investing in clean technology projects and will leverage the existing and growing national network of green banks as a key distribution channel for investment—with at least 50% of investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities. This program may offer the best support for coal site redevelopment.

Coalition for Green Capital

Climate United Fund

This new nonprofit has almost $7 billion to invest in harder-to-reach market segments like consumers, small businesses, small farms, community facilities, and schools—with at least 60% of its investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities, 20% in rural communities, and 10% in Tribal communities. It was formed by Calvert Impact and two Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Self-Help Ventures Fund and Community Preservation Corporation.

Climate United Fund

Power Forward Communities

This nonprofit coalition’s $2 billion is focused on the household decisions that can be influenced to reduce carbon emissions. Partners include including Enterprise Community Partners, LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation), Rewiring America, Habitat for Humanity, and United Way—will lead a national financing program providing customized and affordable solutions for single-family and multi-family housing owners and developers—with at least 75% of investments in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Power Forward Communities

The EPA funds five financing hubs to provide funding and technical assistance to community lenders working in low-income and disadvantaged communities. The goal is to establish a network of local community lenders to build the financing capacity for clean technology projects in underserved communities.  Examples of participating community lenders are “community development financial institutions, credit unions, green banks, housing finance agencies, minority depository institutions, and many others” Note that 100 percent of the capital under the CCIA will go to low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Appalachian Community Capital

Appalachian Community Capital is using $500 million in federal EPA funds to launch the Green Bank for Rural America, which will deliver clean capital and capacity building assistance to hundreds of community lenders working in coal, energy, underserved rural, and Tribal communities across the United States.

Appalachian Community Capital

Opportunity Finance Network

Opportunity Finance Network will use its almost $3 billion funding to enhance capital and capacity building for a national network of 400+ community lenders—predominantly U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Loan Funds—which serve all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and several U.S. territories.

Opportunity Finance Network

Inclusiv

Inclusiv ($1.87 billion award) is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) lender that provides capital and capacity building for a national network of credit unions—which include CDFIs, and financial cooperatives in Puerto Rico—that collectively manage $330 billion in assets and serve 23 million individuals across the country.

Inclusiv

Justice Climate Fund

Justice Climate FundJCF network of community lenders will use the $940 million from the federal EPA to fund smaller-scale renewable energy, clean transportation, and energy-efficient homes and buildings, resulting in reduced pollution, improved climate resilience and better lives.

Justice Climate Fund

Native CDFI Network

Native CDFI Network  This Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) will use its $400 million USEPA fund to strengthen CDFIs creating access to capital and resources for Native peoples.

Native CDFI Network

Solar for All – This program provides funding directly to the states for energy efficiency and housing initiatives.  It is a great engine for the creation of thousands of living wage jobs in construction trades.  This $7 billion fund will support 60 organizations that will create new or expand existing low-income solar programs, which will enable over 900,000 households in low-income and disadvantaged communities to benefit from distributed solar energy.

EPA’s Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grant

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funded Community Change Grants program benefits disadvantaged communities through projects that reduce pollution, increase community climate resilience, and build community capacity to address environmental and climate justice challenges. The objective of the grant is to fund community-driven, changemaking projects that center collaborative efforts around healthier, safer, and more prosperous communities. Grants under the program are not designed to help redevelop industrial facilities such as a shuttered coal plant site. But, Community Change Grants are designed to strengthen disadvantaged communities such as coal communities, and can be a catalyst for community development and job creation.    

Eligible entities can apply until Nov 21, 2024 on a rolling basis (or until the $2 funding is exhausted). The Community Change Grant offers funding for technical assistance and competitive awards. You can learn more about the program on the ReImagine Appalachia blog.

Economic Development Administration’s Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) Program

The EDA’s Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Program (which includes Assistance to Coal Communities) intends to stimulate economic growth in distressed communities by leveraging existing regional assets and supporting the implementation of economic development strategies. The program assists applicants by providing investments that support planning, construction of infrastructure, technical assistance, and revolving loan fund projects. 

Communities and regions that can reasonably demonstrate how changes in the coal economy have resulted or are anticipated to result in job losses and layoffs in any

coal-reliant commercial sector. This includes, but is not limited to coal mining, coal-fired power plants, related transportation, logistics, and/or supply chain manufacturing industries. There is no pre-defined list of impacted coal communities.

To demonstrate eligibility, complete applications must provide appropriate third party economic and demographic statistics that document the extent to which contractions in the coal economy have negatively impacted the community or region.

EDA Webinar Slides: Coal Communities

For more information regarding the program, please check here.

Appalachian Regional Commission’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative

With the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) provides funding for coal communities and regions that experienced job losses based on America’s changing energy economy. Since 2015, ARC has supported over 500 projects with over $400 millions in funding to create and retain jobs, train workers and students, and leverage additional private investments to help revitalize coal communities.

 

For more information about the POWER Initiative, please check here.

8. Technical Assistance Sources

With the Inflation Reduction Act, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the CHIPS and Science Act we are experiencing unprecedented funding that moves the United States toward a new clean energy future, towards cleaner and modern infrastructure, and toward better supply chains and national security through a revitalized manufacturing sector. This is all very exciting, but finding the right funding program and making it through the application process can be intimidating and overwhelming. Technical Assistance provided by federal and state agencies, by universities, foundations and many others offer assistance from locating suitable funding opportunities to grant management.   

 APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION LOCAL DEVELOPMENT DISTRICTS

The primary source of help will be your Appalachian Regional Commission Local Development Districts <<Link to document with all LDDs listed>>Local Development Districts work with regional, state and federal agencies on economic development. They know how the various systems work, who to get in touch with, and where to get funding for specific activities. These groups will connect you to the possible sources of funding and expertise that can help with your planning and redevelopment efforts.

Each state has a state plan for counties that are part of the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Ohio

ARC - OhioOhio - The State Plan

Pennsylvania

ARC - PennsylvaniaPennsylvania - The State Plan

West Virginia

ARC - West VirginiaWest-Virginia - The State Plan

Kentucky

ARC - KentuckyKentucky - The State Plan

FEDERAL TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE GUIDES

Some federal and state agencies offer free technical assistance, such as the EPA’s Brownfield Program or the DOE’s Loan Program Office’s Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program which provides a free pre-application consultation. Other technical assistance requires an application to be accessed. If successful, eligible applicants will then receive funding for technical assistance that can be used for grant writing for other funding opportunities and/or managing the implementation of an already received grant.

White House Technical Assistance Guides

The Biden Administration compiled an Investing in America Technical Assistance Guide listing federal technical assistance resources for BIL and IRA infrastructure and clean energy programs. This comprehensive guide lists more than 100 technical assistance programs by Department/Agency. For technical assistance programs by State, the Biden Administration compiled the Investing in America State Directed Technical Assistance Resources. Here, technical assistance programs are organized by State; for Central Appalachia the guide includes resources for the States of Kentucky and Pennsylvania (but not for Ohio and West Virginia).  nGeneral information regarding those two guides can be found here.

Interagency Working Group (IWG or Energy Communities)

Watch IWG: Technical Assistance Demonstration

The Energy Community Interagency Working Group (IWG) compiled lists of technical assistance provided by departments and agencies. Their website includes lists for three different types of assistance: funding, services (help from people), and educational resources.  https://energycommunities.gov/technical-assistance/get-assistance/

Another resource that can be found under the IWG’s technical assistance tab are their Rapid Response Teams (RRTs). The goal of each RRT is to “provide on-the-ground technical assistance using experienced regional staff to coordinate federal funding opportunities to assist energy communities dealing with past or imminent fossil energy asset transitions such as coal mine and power plant closures.” If you want to contact a Rapid Response Team, email the Energy Communities IWG at [email protected]. The IWG team will respond to emails sent to this address and work to connect stakeholders with relevant RRT leads to match their requests.   

Just Transition Fund

Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a national philanthropic initiative supporting the economic transition of mining and power plant communities in major coal-affected areas of the United States. In 2022, JTF launched the Federal Access Center, a one-stop resource hub that helps coal communities secure public funding for local economic solutions. The Center supports community organizations seeking federal grants to advance projects related to economic and workforce development, economic diversification, and broadband access and affordability. 

You can learn more about the Federal Access Center here. To support a project in your community, JTF offers two types of programs based on the project stage. Stakeholders that are still working to define and develop an economic development project and need more support before applying for federal funding should check the “Coal Communities Get Ready! Challenge” program. Stakeholders that are ready to apply for federal funding should check the “Application Ready” program.

Coal Communities Get Ready! Challenge

Under the “Coal Communities Get Ready! Challenge” Program, the Center selects a cohort of 8-10 organizations to build readiness to apply for federal grants. offers a limited number of grants and technical assistance for early-stage planning projects that have a long-term goal of leveraging federal funding. The program is designed for organizations that have little to no experience applying for federal funds. Each awardee will receive one-year grants of $150,000 and customized technical assistance that will together help build readiness to apply for and manage federal funding. The application window is currently closed but interested organizations should check the Just Transition Fund’s website for updates.

Just Transition Fund - Get Ready! Challenge

Application Ready

Under its “Application Ready” Program, the Federal Access Center offers direct grants of up to $100,000 to support a range of costs associated with developing applications, including hiring a grant writer or other experts, organizing community partnerships, and meeting matching funds requirements. The Center also provides technical assistance from the JTF’s team of experts to help organizations identify funding programs, understand application requirements, build relationships with agency contacts, and see proposals through the final submission stage. They also share lessons learned back with agencies about barriers for communities applying to federal funds. The “Application Ready” Program is currently accepting applications.

Just Transition Fund - Application Ready

EPA TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS

Fact Sheet

The federal EPA offers various funds for technical assistance under its Environmental Justice Climate Programs, its Brownfield Program, and its WaterTA Program. This fact sheet highlights current EPA Technical Assistance (TA) opportunities including links for more detailed information.

Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs)

The EPA has selected 16 Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy to help underserved and overburdened communities across the country. Throughout the U.S. there are three national technical assistance centers and thirteen technical assistance centers for each EPA region. The centers provide training and other assistance to build capacity for navigating federal grant application systems, writing strong grant proposals, and effectively managing grant funding. 

For further information regarding the EJ TCTACs Program check here

The Central Appalachian region of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia is divided among three EPA regions with Kentucky belonging to region 4, Ohio belonging to region 5, and Pennsylvania and West Virginia belonging to region 3. Here is information about Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs) for each of our states:

Ohio

EPA region 5, which includes Ohio, has two Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs), one is hosted by the nonprofit Blacks in Green in Chicago and one is hosted by the University of Minnesota. Both TCTACs have partners throughout the Great Lakes region, one being the Ohio State University.

Kentucky

  • EPA Region 4, which includes Kentucky, has two Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (TCTACs). One is hosted by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice (DSCEJ) in Louisiana, and one is hosted by the Research Triangle Institute (RTI International) in North Carolina. Their regional partner in Kentucky is the University of Kentucky
REACT4EJ

Pennsylvania

EPA Region 3, which includes Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has one Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center (TCTAC) hosted by the nonprofit National Wildlife Federation.

Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center Programs

West Virginia

EPA Region 3, which includes Pennsylvania and West Virginia, has one Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center (TCTAC) hosted by the nonprofit National Wildlife Federation. West Virginia State University is a regional partner; unfortunately, WV State has no TCTAC specific information online as of yet.

Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Center Programs

APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSIONS READY APPALACHIA INITITIVE

Fact Sheet

The Appalachian Regional Commission’s READY Initiative offers up to nine weeks of virtual no-cost training, cohort-based learning and funding (no match required) for leaders of nonprofits, community foundations, local governments, and Local Development Districts (LDDs). There are four different programs under the READY Initiative, each track tailored to the participating entities (nonprofits, community foundations, local governments, or LDD). Potential participants need to apply for this program which is a combination of training and grant money. Check the website for application deadlines and to see which program is currently open.

Watch Appalachia Envisioned: Building Community Leaders and Capacity

READY Local Government

  • READY Local Government trains local government officials to better identify, secure, manage, and implement federally funded projects. After completing the training program, participants can receive up to $50,000 in funding (no match required) to implement internal capacity-building projects to help them better serve communities. Eligible participants under the READY Local Government can come from any borough, city, county, municipality, parish, town, township, or federally-recognized Indian tribe in the Appalachian Region. Municipalities that serve groups with these characteristics are strongly encouraged to participate:

You can find more information about the program here.

ARC - READY Local Governments

READY Local Development District (LDD)

  • READY Local Development District (LDD) is offering up to $100,000 to Appalachian Local Development Districts to hire staff and more effectively help clients, including local governments and nonprofits, access and manage federal funding. So far, the program has awarded nearly $4 million supporting 41 Local Development Districts in Appalachia. You can find more information about the program here.
ARC - READY Local Governments

READY Non-Profit

READY Non-Profit helps leaders of Appalachian nonprofits build skills in federal grant application and management, financial management, fundraising, employee recruitment and retention, marketing, and operations. After completing the training program, participants can apply for up to $25,000 in funding (no match required) to implement internal capacity building projects that will help them better serve Appalachian communities. Nonprofits focused on communities with these characteristics are strongly encouraged to participate:

You can find more information about the program here.

ARC - READY Non Profits

READY Community Foundation

  • READY Community Foundation offers a six week no-cost virtual training that helps participating organizations to strengthen their operations, programming and fundraising. After completing the training program, participants can apply for up to $25,000 in funding (no-match required) to implement internal capacity-building projects and bolster their organizations as critical local funding sources. Community Foundations that serve communities with these characteristics are strongly encouraged to participate:

 You can find more information about the program here.

ARC - READY Community Foundations

OTHER SOURCES OF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

ENERGYWERX

ENERGYWERX  “strives to discover, engage, and accelerate innovation in support of DOE’s missions to expand the development and deployment of clean energy solutions, heighten energy security, and strengthen national security ecosystems.” Energywerx serves as a platform to “increase cooperative and joint activities between DOE and industry, utilities, localities, and other non-traditional performers and collaborators with a goal of enabling the rapid development, scaling, commercialization, and deployment of energy technologies and solutions.”

ENERGYWERX

U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Local Infrastructure Hub - Local Government Bootcamps

The U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Local Infrastructure Hub offers events such as webinars and learning sessions, as well as bootcamps to help small to mid-sized municipalities take advantage of the grant opportunities available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act. 

The list of those no-cost bootcamp changes. For the Fall 2024, the Local Infrastructure Hub offers bootcamps regarding:

  • IRA Elective Pay (aka Direct Pay): Elective or Direct Pay allows tax-exempt entities to claim a tax credit (in form of a payout from the IRS) for several clean energy tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act.  <<Anchor to a section in Chapter 6; Rike will provide page numbers>>
  • Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program: The program funds a mix of transportation infrastructure, such as public transportation, passenger or freight rail projects, inland port infrastructure to strengthen communities making them safer and more efficient for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Building Resilient Infrastructure and Communities (BRIC): The program funds hazard mitigation projects and aims to shift the focus from reactive disaster spending to proactive investment in community resilience.
  • Flood Mitigation Assistance (FMA) program. The program aims to make local communities more flood resilient through flood mitigation plans and projects that reduce the risk of disaster damage.

Federal funding programs covered in past bootscamps include Brownfield Grants,  Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, and Charging and Fueling Infrastructure Grants.

 

What to Expect?

Towns and cities participating in these programs will receive support to develop a robust federal grant application, including access to templates, example submissions, and other resources that make for a well-composed application. The program provides a range of support, including access to subject matter experts, individualized coaching sessions, office hours, and peer-to-peer learning where they can engage with a community of like-minded applicants aiming for infrastructure progress. 

Participants will include mayors and municipal staff with job functions focused on finance, community engagement, and other relevant disciplines such as administrative and advisory affairs. A major emphasis will also be placed on helping communities understand federal priorities, such as equity and sustainability, and then incorporate these and other desired outcomes into submissions.

By the conclusion of the bootcamp, cities will be prepared to submit robust applications for federal funding opportunities in these programs.

Registration for the above mentioned bootcamps are now open on a first come first served basis. For more information, please check here.

National Association of Counties: Building Resilience in Coal Communities (BRECC)

The BRECC National Network is an open forum and peer network connecting coal community leaders representing local governments, regional organizations, community nonprofits, education and workforce providers, utilities, private business and other local stakeholders. 

Community leaders can join the BRECC Online Community Platform which is used to to share announcements for funding and technical assistance opportunities, resources and relevant reports as well as informational webinars. All BRECC National Network bi-monthly learning sessions will be recorded and saved to this platform. BRECC partners will create posts, providing opportunities for users to reply and ask questions.To join the BRECC Online Community Platform, sign up here.

REGIONAL TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE AND COMMUNITY BUILDING RESOURCES

Next to the federal technical assistance resources, state agencies and other regional groups also provide valuable technical assistance help. Below is a list of regional organizations offering a host of different services to move forward projects in your community.  

Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services

Fair Shake is a non-profit environmental law firm that offers a range of services from legal counsel to community planning and outreach. Fair Shake’s Community Democracy Program supports environmental justice communities in the Ohio River Valley to harness their strengths and resources to drive what they want for their air, water, and places in ways that support their health, happiness, and wellbeing. At the same time, the program supports local decision-makers, municipalities, and county governments to reimagine how they engage with their constituents in decision-making processes, and to provide tools and support to help reach the community’s vision. For more information about Fair Shake’s Community Democracy Program, check here.

Community Democracy Program

West Virginia Community Development Hub

The West Virginia Community Development Hub is a valuable resource for different West Virginia community leaders who wish to spark positive change in their hometowns and throughout the state. The Hub provides online courses for community organizing, coaching of community leaders, and a platform for West Virginian communities to connect. 

First and foremost, the Hub offers five community coaching programs ranging from introductory to those that require long-term community buy-in and consensus. Amanda Workman Scott, the Hub’s Director of Community Engagement or Stacy Thomas, the Community Coaching Programs Coordinator can help inform which capacity-coaching program is appropriate according to your needs. The Community Coaching Programs, with relevant applications and timelines, are on their website under “How We Work.”

West Virginia Grant Resource Centers

The West Virginia Grant Resource Centers, located in Huntington and Morgantown, serve all 55 West Virginia counties with assistance during the pre-award process. The centers help eligible applicants from  identifying funding opportunities to submitting a complete application package every step of the way. Special consideration is given to applicants that are located and serve distressed counties as identified by the Appalachian Regional Commission. For more information about the WV Grant Resource Centers check here.

WV Grant Centers

Southwestern Pennsylvania Municipal Project Hub

The Southwestern Pennsylvania Municipal Hub (The Hub) is a resource for local government officials in Southwestern PA who are looking for support in realizing their municipal project. The Hub is fairly new and still growing. Already, it provides project and technical support helping to connect municipalities, school districts and nonprofits with funding opportunities, direct technical assistance, and experts such as grant writers, engineers and project managers. The Hub also helps to establish strong community engagement and planning, since it believes to be a prerequisite for a project’s success. Finally, the Hub offers research and resource support identifying the gaps, barriers and bottlenecks the region faces when pursuing a green and equitable economy. The Southwestern Pennsylvania Municipal Hub serves a 10-county region in Southwestern PA, including Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, Washington, and Westmoreland Counties. For more information check here.

Southwestern Pennsylvania Municipal Project Hub

Power a Clean Future Ohio

Watch: What is Power a Clean Future Ohio?

Power a Clean Future Ohio is a nonpartisan coalition that works with Ohio communities to build a clean energy future. The nonprofit equips local leaders with tools and resources to create carbon reduction plans and implement them in ways that are achievable, equitable, and economical.

Communities of the PCFO coalition have access to the group’s Infrastructure Grant Assistance Program (IGAP). IGAP provides technical assistance and other resources as new grant programs and application deadlines are announced. Member communities are assisted at different steps of the way, from helping them to find the right funding opportunity to providing expert advice during the grant writing process.

PCFO also offers an Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Resource Hub assisting Ohio local governments and community members with the resources they need to take advantage of historic opportunities provided through this landmark legislation.    

Learn more on how to add your Ohio community to the mix and access the resources above by going to the Power a Clean Future Ohio website.

Power a Clean Future Ohio