This is the fourth in our series on “The ABCs of the AJP.”
The White House’s recent announcement of the American Jobs Plan (AJP) highlights the establishment of a “$27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment into distributed energy resources.” While distributed energy resources (DERs) are only mentioned once in the announcement, they figure to play an important role in the Administration’s overall goals.
Compared to traditional large-scale electricity generators, DERs are a collection of smaller, decentralized generators. They typically harness cleaner sources of energy, including renewables such as solar, wind, and geothermal, and are located closer to the energy users, reducing the need for long-range transmission.
By promising diverse localized production and a higher percentage of renewable energy in our grid, DERs figure to be a useful tool to achieve several of the Administration’s goals, including: reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas pollution; and resiliency—not dependent upon just one energy source or provider, our grid will be less vulnerable to widespread outages. DERs have been an increasing focus of attention in California, since public-safety power-shutoffs have caused multi-day shutoffs for thousands of customers due to wind-precipitated events that pose a risk of wildfires.
The AJP explains that investment in DERs will come from an “Accelerator.” The specifics of the Accelerator will be determined by Congress, where relevant bills have been introduced in both the House and the Senate. Specifics aside, the Accelerator will be an independent public or not-for-profit financial organization that will invest in clean energy. By focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency, this entity would accelerate investment in a clean energy economy.
Both the House and Senate bills embrace the Administration’s goal of using this Accelerator to advance environmental justice goals: “These investments have a particular focus on disadvantaged communities that have not yet benefited from clean energy investments.” To this end, both bills make clear that not less than 40% of the total money invested would be directed towards disadvantaged communities that figure to be especially hard hit by climate change. See H.R.806, §1627(b); S.283, §5245H(b).