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Richmond, San Jose selected for federal clean economy program

Two Bay Area cities were selected to get help with clean energy economic development from the U.S. Department of Energy, federal officials announced this week.

Richmond and San Jose are part of 22 communities nationwide and four in the state receiving the help. The communities were selected as part of the Communities Local Energy Action Program, or Communities LEAP, which aims to help energy-overburdened communities.

Each selected community will get help from the Energy Department with creating plans to reduce air pollution, lower utility costs and provide jobs and economic opportunity, among other things.

Other work involves energy storage, carbon capture and storage, cleaner transportation, the development of clean energy, critical minerals recovery and providing opportunities in manufacturing and industry.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said:

“The President committed to making a historic investment in our clean energy future and environmental justice. With today’s Communities LEAP announcement, we will use the power of the Federal government, DOE’s National Labs and other experts to help our communities develop clear, actionable plans to reimagine their energy future and protect the health and safety of all residents.”

San Jose officials see the need not only to retrain workers who might lose their jobs during the transition to clean energy, but also the need to train additional workers because the existing workforce cannot handle all the work that needs to be done.

Technical assistance through Communities LEAP will provide the selected communities with access to other Energy Department and federal programs, including those included in the $1.3 trillion Congress earmarked for infrastructure.

Forty percent of the benefits from Communities LEAP will be delivered to disadvantaged communities. Communities LEAP also ensures federal investment is made in hard-hit energy communities through the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities.

Mitch Landrieu, White House senior advisor and infrastructure coordinator, said:

“Communities across the country must be able to take advantage of these historic investments in clean energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, and clean transportation.” 

Landrieu added:

“Technical assistance programs like Communities LEAP will help ensure these communities are prepared for the many funding opportunities available from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as we transition to a clean energy economy.” 

The two other communities in California to be selected for the assistance are the city of Bakersfield and Kern County.

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