Biden Administration Aims Aid Programs at Coal, Nuclear Communities – July/August/September 2021 Issue

Michigan receives nuclear community grant

This summer, the Economic Development Administration (EDA), a branch of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, awarded a $969,261 grant to the Southwestern Michigan Commission, a grant aimed at developing an economic recovery strategy ahead of the closure of the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station. Further, this grant will be matched with $242,316 in state and local funds.

Demonstrating President Biden’s commitment to supporting efforts to create opportunity and jobs in communities impacted by nuclear plant closures, the grant will help to create a roadmap for economic recovery to help southwest Michigan respond to the economic challenges created by the closure. With community buy-in, the investment will help ensure the region can adapt to the change and build back better than ever.

Palisades, a regional economic anchor since 1971, has employed thousands of workers, providing good paying middle-class, union jobs.  As the plant prepares to close in 2022, this EDA grant will help ensure a meaningful transition, safely stop plant operations, and create new jobs along the way.

This project is being funded by the Economic Development Administration (EDA) via its Assistance to Nuclear Closure Communities program. Closures of nuclear powerplants throughout the United States have significantly impacted the economic foundation of their communities through job losses and a reduction to the local tax base. EDA has a track record of working with communities facing such structural economic adjustments, including those impacted by nuclear powerplant closures. In 2020, EDA deployed a total of $15 million to support communities impacted by nuclear plant closures.  This is an on-going grant program and there are no submission deadlines under this opportunity.

EDA builds out coal community assistance program

EDA’s Coal Communities Commitment allocates $300 million of the $3 billion it received under the recently enacted American Rescue Plan to support coal communities as they recover from the pandemic and to help them create new jobs and opportunities. More specifically, EDA will dedicate $100 million of its Build Back Better Regional Challenge funds and $200 million of its Economic Adjustment Assistance funds to directly support coal communities.

This investment is a result of the Initial Report to the President on Empowering Workers Through Revitalizing Energy Communities developed by President Biden’s Interagency Working Group, tasked by the President with developing a plan to assist energy industry communities.

EDA also aims to support these communities through its Assistance to Coal Communities (ACC) initiative. Through this program, the EDA awards funds on a competitive basis to assist communities economically challenged by the declining use of coal through activities to support economic diversification, job creation, capital investment, workforce development, and re-employment opportunities.

As there is no pre-defined list of what constitutes an impacted coal community, they include those outlined by the Interagency Working Group report as well as communities and regions that can reasonably demonstrate how changes in the coal economy have resulted in job losses in any coal-reliant sector such as mining, power generation, or transportation.

Entities that are eligible to apply for these EDA programs include, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • A state, county, city, or other political subdivision engaged in economic or infrastructure development activities;
  • An EDA-designated Economic Development District;
  • An Indian Tribe;
  • An institution of higher education;
  • A public or private non-profit organization or association acting in cooperation with officials of a political subdivision of a State.

While many challenges lie ahead for nuclear and coal communities as the nation’s energy mix steadily evolves over time, there are resources available for those looking to re-invent their economies, attract new opportunity and chart a path to their next chapters.