Environment

Here’s what’s in Biden’s $2T infrastructure plan about clean energy

The Biden administration has published its $2 trillion infrastructure plan, which is called The American Jobs Plan, on the White House website. He’ll discuss the plan today in a speech in Pittsburgh.

It’s extremely comprehensive – and that’s an understatement – so we pulled out the clean energy overview in a quick roundup here.

The New York Times points out:

Officials said that, if approved, the spending in the plan would end decades of stagnation in federal investment in research and infrastructure — and would return government investment in those areas, as a share of the economy, to its highest levels since the 1960s.

Biden infrastructure plan

How it’s funded. The spending in the plan will take place over eight years. “The President’s tax plan will ensure that corporations pay their fair share of taxes by increasing the corporate tax rate to 28%… This will help fund critical investments in infrastructure, clean energy, R&D, and more to maintain the competitiveness of the United States and grow the economy.” (Yes, corporate are already howling about how this tax increase will hurt jobs.) Trump cut the corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%.

Spur jobs modernizing power generation and delivering clean electricity. “President Biden is proposing a 10-year extension and phase down of an expanded direct-pay investment tax credit and production tax credit for clean energy generation and storage. These credits will be paired with strong labor standards to ensure the jobs created are good-quality jobs with a free and fair choice to join a union and bargain collectively.”

And, it will use the federal government’s incredible purchasing power to drive clean energy deployment across the market by purchasing 24/7 clean power for federal buildings. To ensure that we fully take advantage of the opportunity that modernizing our power sector presents, President Biden will establish an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) aimed at cutting electricity bills and electricity pollution, increasing competition in the market, incentivizing more efficient use of existing infrastructure, and continuing to leverage the carbon pollution-free energy provided by existing sources like nuclear and hydropower.

Build next-generation industries in distressed communities. “President Biden believes that the market-based shift toward clean energy presents enormous opportunities for the development of new markets and new industries.”

For example, by pairing an investment in 15 decarbonized hydrogen demonstration projects in distressed communities with a new production tax credit, we can spur capital-project retrofits and installations that bolster and decarbonize our industry.

The President’s plan also will establish 10 pioneer facilities that demonstrate carbon capture retrofits for large steel, cement, and chemical production facilities, all while ensuring that overburdened communities are protected from increases in cumulative pollution.

And to accelerate responsible carbon capture deployment and ensure permanent storage, President Biden’s plan reforms and expands the bipartisan Section 45Q tax credit, making it direct pay and easier to use for hard-to-decarbonize industrial applications, direct air capture, and retrofits of existing power plants.

Put union building trade workers to work upgrading homes and businesses to save families money. “President Biden’s plan also will establish a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment into distributed energy resources; retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation. These investments have a particular focus on disadvantaged communities that have not yet benefited from clean energy investments.”

Establish the United States as a leader in climate science, innovation, and R&D. “The President is calling on Congress to invest $35 billion in the full range of solutions needed to achieve technology breakthroughs that address the climate crisis and position America as the global leader in clean energy technology and clean energy jobs.”

Jumpstart clean energy manufacturing through federal procurement. “To meet the President’s goals of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050, the United States will need more electric vehicles, charging ports, and electric heat pumps for residential heating and commercial buildings.”

The President is calling on Congress to enable the manufacture of [electric vehicles], ports, pumps, and clean materials, as well as critical technologies like advanced nuclear reactors and fuel, here at home through a $46 billion investment in federal buying power, creating good-paying jobs and reinvigorating local economies, especially in rural areas.

Job creation. Biden “is calling for a $40 billion investment in a new Dislocated Workers Program and sector-based training. This funding will ensure comprehensive services for workers, who have lost jobs through no fault of their own, to gain new skills and to get career services they need with in-demand jobs.” This includes clean energy.

President Biden also will call upon Congress to ensure that new jobs created in clean energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure are open and accessible to women and people of color.

He is asking Congress to tie federal investments in clean energy and infrastructure to prevailing wages and require transportation investments to meet existing transit labor protections.

Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said in response to the plan:

The release of these critical infrastructure priorities is just the beginning of a long policymaking process over the coming weeks and months that will require continued focus and determination on the part of elected officials.

In line with the president’s emphasis on high-quality jobs, an upcoming jobs study will show that solar has a unionization rate of 10.3%, which is substantially more than previously estimated and higher than the economy-wide average. These union jobs, along with numerous other career-sustaining jobs in solar, offer another moment to prioritize equity and create opportunities in every community, regardless of zip code, including for fossil fuel workers who are looking to continue their careers in the energy sector. 

We look forward to working with the administration and bipartisan members of Congress to enact policies that generate the kind of economic growth and climate solutions we are all striving to achieve.

Electrek’s Take

As I mentioned above, The American Jobs Plan is absolutely massive. And this is only the first half of the plan.

Public domestic investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40% since the 1960s. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.

There will of course be a lot of pushback and shouting about taxes from many groups and legislators, and a whole lot of horse trading, but we are very excited and intrigued to see where this leads.

We want to see a huge push in clean energy, clean energy jobs, and emissions reduction. And we believe that it’s going to take a gargantuan effort like this – and yes, it has to come with a gargantuan price tag.

But you know what would cost even more? Doing nothing. And neglecting this since the 1960s is precisely why it costs so much now.


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