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The $369 Billion Gamechanger for Clean Energy

In the same week as a record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot, the US Senate reached a groundbreaking $369 billion climate agreement, days after it appeared a deal was all but dead, The Inflation Reduction Act, which is expected to pass the House later this week, is a milestone victory for the green sector, making a record-shattering investment into emissions-free energy production. It promises to cut carbon emissions by 40 percent nationwide and massively overhaul how Americans get their electricity, heating, and cooling. Although it’s not the multi-trillion-dollar climate plan that President Joe Biden originally envisioned, $369 billion on a bad day isn’t bad.

As anticipated, if passed by both chambers, the Inflation Reduction Act will, as the name suggests, reduce inflation and produce tangible gains for a US economy in desperate need of a boost. Critically, it will also reset the climate change agenda and help to make decarbonization a household issue for a generation of Americans.

You can call it watered down if you’d like. Still, the Inflation Reduction Act is a major political win for both pragmatism and popular opinion, as David Wallace-Wells wrote in the New York Times: “This bill is a compromise, obviously and outwardly. It is also a historic achievement for the climate left and a tribute to its moral fervor and political realism.”

For companies like Vicinity Energy, these historic investments in renewable energy are in lockstep with the decarbonization investments we are already making in the cities served by our district energy systems. Vicinity’s agile, fuel-agnostic systems can easily switch to carbon-free energy sources and lower carbon emissions by converting renewable power into steam. Customers on the system receive a thermal energy product without emitting CO2, making district energy a game changer for the climate and our communities.

So, where is the $369 billion going? The Inflation Reduction Act incentivizes developers to build new emissions-free electricity sources, such as geothermal heating, wind turbines, and solar panels, by offering billions of dollars in tax credits over ten years. The deal struck by Congress also provides substantial incentives to low- and middle-income households to transition to electric heat, fueled by renewables, in their homes. Overall, the legislation stands to rapidly speed up the country’s transition away from fossil fuels and bring the United States closer to the emissions targets set in the Paris Climate Accord.

Among the policies and investments being made with the single-largest investment into the green sector in history are:

  • $4.28 billion – dedicated to creating a High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Program that will provide $8,000 for homeowners to install heat pumps, among other rebates.
  • $60 billion – providing incentives to ramp up domestic manufacturing for clean energy products like solar panels, wind turbines, and batteries.
  • $60 billion – targeting a series of environmental justice programs, such as community block grants for neighborhoods that have been disproportionately impacted by the public health harms of pollution and climate change.
  • New federal penalties for companies that produce methane leakage
  • An end to the Trump-era moratorium on offshore wind in the Gulf

You can read the full text of the bill here.