US Energy Secretary: Clean energy brings coal plant communities to prosperity

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  • • America’s coal and power plant communities have relied on ambition and entrepreneurship to support the country
  • • The community can derive clean energy and revenue from a tribal-owned solar power plant
  • • Tribal communities have wells that can be used to harness geothermal energy
  • • Ex-coal miners have a desire to take new, long-term jobs
  • • The Ministry of Energy is investing tens of millions of dollars in next generation energy projects

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said clean energy can bring prosperity and light the way for societies that once relied on coal to generate electricity.

The 16th Secretary of Energy in the United States explained that over the past century, the communities of coal power plants in America have relied on geology, geography, ambition and entrepreneurship to support the country and its growing economy, according to what was published in an article in the American newspaper “The Hill”.

Granholm noted that these advantages now allow these communities to play key roles in the new clean energy sectors, explaining that she saw those advantages and capabilities as she traveled across the country to Kayenta, Arizona, where a solar power facility now produces enough electricity to run 36,000 homes in adjacent Navajo community grounds.

She added that the Navajo community of Kayenta previously relied on a coal mine and power plant run by companies, in which the residents lacked any real stake, and that community can now draw clean energy and revenue from the tribal-owned solar power facility.

Transition to clean energy

The US Department of Energy, in its article titled “Clean Energy Illuminates a New Future for Former Coal Societies,” explained that US President Joe Biden believes that other coal and power plant communities across the United States are poised to follow similar paths.

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These communities have infrastructure ready for new energy generation opportunities such as clean hydrogen and small-scale nuclear energy storage and long-term energy storage, Jennifer Granholm said.

She mentioned that some of these communities are characterized by mine lands suitable for rare earth elements or for the extraction of rare earth minerals, wells that can be used to harness geothermal energy and surface areas for new business or clean energy projects.

She noted that all of these societies have a workforce with the necessary skills to invest in clean energy sources.

And the US Secretary of Energy said that she heard from conversations with former coal miners in West Virginia that they had a desire to take on new, long-term jobs.

It should be noted that, a year ago, the Department of Energy and nine other federal agencies within the White House’s Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities issued a report to President Biden outlining this potential.

She explained that this report guides efforts to take advantage of the potential and advantages inherent in these societies.

Federal Investments

Since President Joe Biden took office, the administration has given more than $3.3 billion in current federal funds to the communities that have been hardest hit by coal mines and power plant shutdowns.

In turn, the Department of Energy is investing tens of millions of dollars in next-generation energy projects that range from converting former gas plants into hydrogen facilities to extracting critical materials from old coal to produce batteries.

Added to this is harnessing geothermal energy from oil and gas wells, and beyond.

clean energy
Installing solar panels in indigenous communities in the United States

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the department is partnering with 23 communities across the country to develop clean energy solutions, many of which are fossil energy communities on the verge of transitioning to clean energy, The Hill reported on May 11.

The partnership is part of the New Communities Initiative, the Local Energy Action Program (LEAP).

Granholm noted that she joined with US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and White House leaders in Charleston, Virginia, in March to announce cooperation with the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO).

This announcement will bring together industry leaders and work to build a workforce ready to manage the domestic battery supply chain.

Advantages of Infrastructure Law

The Infrastructure Act, which US President Joe Biden successfully passed, gives bipartisanship more opportunities in the future.

The bill invests billions of dollars in new clean energy projects that will use the strong infrastructure and skilled workforce of today’s fossil energy communities, US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in her recent article in The Hill.

clean energy - minerals

Granholm said the $8 billion in clean hydrogen financing requires figuring out how to repurpose existing natural gas infrastructure.

She noted that the $750 million Manufacturing Grant Program prioritizes proposals for former coal plants and mining communities.

She added that the $7 billion in grants for the battery manufacturing and recycling program needed to find ways to tap into the skills of former fossil energy workers.

Moreover, there are $2.5 billion for advanced nuclear reactors — including a model that could replace a broken coal plant — and more than $10 billion to sequester carbon from the air and reduce industrial emissions.

It indicated that these projects will create job opportunities that will be required for decades, and will work to advance economic growth in the areas in which they are located.

These projects will open up new possibilities for coal, power plants, and other fossil energy communities; To start exporting clean energy products across the country and the world.

She suggested that President Biden is calling on Congress to provide more assistance to resource-rich companies and communities to claim their share through tax credits and other incentives; To facilitate the transition to new energy markets.

This aid will create more jobs, lower energy bills, and huge incentives to re-manufacture in America to build these technologies locally.

The future is bright

US Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said the closure of the local coal mine in the Kainta region has caused job losses for residents of neighboring communities, in the short term, but the future is bright.

She said the Navajo Nation project plans to expand its solar electricity capacity 14-fold, to approximately 750 megawatts — and seeks to sell much of it on the grid, providing more revenue and jobs for the community.

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