A Southland congresswoman introduced a bill Tuesday that would create the first federal program to build clean energy microgrids to power critical infrastructure for communities in the aftermath of an extreme weather event or power shut-off.
“As the climate crisis worsens, our country is experiencing unprecedented wildfires, hurricanes, floods and heat waves — often creating power outages,” said Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan, D-San Pedro. “We experienced this in Los Angeles and throughout California in September when record heat waves created a state of emergency and caused tens of thousands of Southern California residents to lose power.”
Barragan — who introduced the measure with Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, D-Brooklyn — said “keeping the lights on and maintaining health care and emergency services can be the difference between life or death.”
She said the Energy Resilient Communities Act would help communities recover from extreme weather events by centering the most vulnerable communities at the heart of the “clean energy revolution.”
The bill would put grant applications from low-income communities and communities of color at the front of the line for clean energy microgrid grants that would help combat power outages and rolling blackouts, reduce pollution, create green jobs and fight the climate crisis, according to the congresswoman’s office.
The measure would authorize $1.5 billion in annual grants to support the construction of 100% clean energy microgrids to support the critical infrastructure needed in the aftermath of an extreme weather event, along with $50 million in annual grants for technical assistance, Barragan said.
State and local governments, along with nonprofit organizations, utilities, tribal agencies and territories, could apply for grants, with projects set to be prioritized on criteria including how effectively they reduce pollution and improve public health and whether they are built on previously disturbed land.
The bill’s author say it also includes “Buy American” provisions to maximize the creation of American manufacturing jobs in the production of materials and technology for microgrids, and worker hiring targets for each project to maximize the number of local and economically disadvantaged workers, including those who live in environmental justice communities or were displaced from a previous job in the energy sector.
According to Barragan’s office, the measure is backed by leaders from organizations including the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, The Union of Concerned Scientists, Greenpeace USA, Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund and League of Conservation Voters.