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Aug 3 -- This is a Request for Information (RFI) issued by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Manufacturing & Energy Supply Chains (MESC), in collaboration with DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO). This RFI seeks public input to help inform DOE’s implementation of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).

The purpose of this RFI is to solicit feedback on issues related to design and implementation of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing & Recycling Grant Program from small- and medium-sized manufacturers, including minority-owned firms; individuals and organizations involved in clean energy business planning, siting, operations, and management; academic experts; research laboratories; government agencies; Tribes; State and local officials; labor unions; economic development organizations; community-based organizations (CBOs); and other stakeholders.

In this RFI, DOE seeks information about how design and implementation of this Program can best support community development, catalyze economic revitalization, create good-paying jobs, and support investment in local infrastructure in communities where coal mines and coal power plants have closed. This RFI also seeks information regarding how this Program can best facilitate transition of existing assets, infrastructure, and workforce capabilities to provide the foundation for sustained future economic growth.

BIL Section 40209 authorizes DOE to establish a $750 million Advanced Manufacturing & Recycling Grant Program to award grants to small- and medium-sized manufacturing firms. Consistent with BIL Section 40209, to qualify as an eligible entity, a manufacturing firm must have:

1. Gross annual sales of less than $100,000,000;
2. Fewer than 500 employees at the plant site of the manufacturing firm; and
3. Annual energy bills that total more than $100,000 but less than $2,500,000.

It is anticipated that priority will be given to minority-owned firms, meaning an eligible firm “not less than 51% of which is owned by one or more individuals who are (A) citizens of the United States; and (B) Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, African American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, or Alaska Native.”

The Program will enable eligible firms to carry out two types of qualifying projects:

Clean Energy Property Projects
The Program will support projects to re-equip or expand existing manufacturing or recycling facilities, or establish new facilities, to produce or recycle clean energy property. These projects are referred to in this RFI as “Clean Energy Property Projects.” Under BIL Section 40209, the following are the types of property that may be produced or recycled through a Clean Energy Property Project:

• Property designed to be used to produce energy from the sun, water, wind, geothermal or hydrothermal resources, enhanced geothermal systems, or other renewable resources;
• Fuel cells, microturbines, or energy storage systems and components;
• Electric grid modernization equipment or components;
• Property designed for use in carbon capture, transport, removal, use, or sequestration / storage;
• Equipment designed to refine, electrolyze, or blend any fuel, chemical, or product that is renewable or low-carbon and low-emission;
• Property designed to produce energy conservation technologies (including for residential, commercial, and industrial applications);
• Light-, medium-, or heavy-duty electric or fuel cell vehicles, electric or fuel cell locomotives, electric or fuel cell maritime vessels, or electric or fuel cell planes; technologies, components, and materials of those vehicles, locomotives, maritime vessels, or planes; and charging or refueling infrastructure associated with those vehicles, locomotives, maritime vessels, or planes;
• Hybrid vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of not less than 14,000 pounds; and technologies, components, and materials for those vehicles; and
• Other property designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Projects
The Program will also support projects to re-equip existing industrial or manufacturing facilities with equipment designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. These projects are referred to in this RFI as “Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Projects.” Pursuant to BIL Section 40209, a Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Project must reduce the emissions of a facility substantially below greenhouse gas emissions under current best practices. The installed equipment may be:

• Low- or zero-carbon heat systems;
• Carbon capture, transport, removal, utilization, and sequestration/storage;
• Energy efficiency and industrial waste reduction technologies; or
• Other industrial technology that reduces greenhouse gas emissions substantially below current best practices.
All projects, whether Clean Energy Property Projects or Greenhouse Gas Emission Reduction Projects, must be carried out in census tracts (a) where a coal mine closed after December 31, 1999, (b) where a coal-fired power plant was retired after December 31, 2009, or (c) immediately adjacent to (a) or (b). Consistent with the BIL Section 40209, a census tract is not an eligible location for a funded project under this Program until after a coal mine or coal-fired power plant project in the census tract has closed. . . .    

DOE envisions that the projects authorized under this BIL provision will be selected through a competitive solicitation in which projects will be  evaluated according to criteria that reflect the BIL and Program priorities identified above. However, the precise criteria and the plans for how the projects will be structured have yet to be determined. This draft strategy outlines how information is being gathered to understand key challenges and opportunities presented with respect to the Program.

DOE is working with partners at the national laboratories to gather relevant data sets and conduct relevant analyses of challenges and opportunities. DOE is also working with intraagency partners, including the Advanced Manufacturing Office and the Clean Energy Smart Manufacturing Innovation Institute, and interagency partners including but not limited to the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Commerce, including the Minority Business Development Agency, the Economic Development Administration, the Manufacturing Extension Partnership, and the Manufacturing USA network, and to maximize the effectiveness of this spending and align with related efforts to promote economic and workforce development in coal and power plant communities and build a secure, resilient, and diverse domestic energy sector industrial base.

DOE is planning a series of stakeholder workshops in 2022 that will collect perspectives on the challenges and opportunities that this Program presents for manufacturing and recycling in coal and power plant communities. The workshops will be open to the public and representatives from key stakeholder groups will be invited to participate in these workshops. DOE envisions that stakeholder groups participating will include, but not be limited to, the clean energy industry and its investors, the manufacturing industry and small and medium-sized manufacturing firms, federal and state regulatory agencies, state and local governments, labor unions, environmental justice organizations, economic development organizations, Tribal officials, disadvantaged communities, community-based organizations, conservation and environmental groups, and academic and other research institutions.

Based on information gathered in this RFI and in other stakeholder engagement, DOE expects to produce public resources, such as technical reports, best practices, regulatory analyses, data sets, and maps. These resources will help potential applicants or host sites prepare for DOE-funded clean energy projects while also providing resources that can be used for projects outside of this program. In addition, DOE worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to establish an initial program to provide technical assistance to small- and medium manufacturing firms and expects to continue to provide technical assistance to facilitate meaningful engagement between eligible entities and communities where coal mines and coal power plants have closed; to identify opportunities to transition existing workforce, manufacturing, and infrastructure assets into hubs for future economic growth; and to increase the likelihood of successful selection and completion of projects.  

EERE notice: https://oced-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx#FoaIdda71aaee-dac7-4626-b240-e71ff27e5612
RFI: https://oced-exchange.energy.gov/FileContent.aspx?FileID=d6609680-ecf0-453a-b7dd-fbca9a8751eb
Press release: https://www.energy.gov/articles/biden-harris-administration-advances-750-million-program-strengthen-clean-energy

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