• Wed. Aug 17th, 2022

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Boosters of US Climate Bill Included Clean Energy Companies, Nuclear Developers – and Bill Gates

A proposed $369 billion bill would have far-reaching impacts on America’s energy landscape — and in a wide variety of ways.
The Washington Post took a close look at its tightly targetted energy-industry tax subisidies. “The goal? To make new green energy production cheaper for utilities to build than fossil fuel plants are.” But others benefit too:

The bill contains numerous smaller measures aimed at specific parts of the economy with high emissions: $20 billion for agriculture subsidies to help farmers reduce emissions, $6 billion to reduce emissions in chemical, steel and cement plants, and $3 billion to reduce air pollution at ports.

Yet how do you convince a congressman from a coal-producing state? Politico explores what changed the mind of one of the legislation’s last hold-out votes and convinced West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin that “The next generation of clean tech needed Washington’s backing to take off.”

Brandon Dennison, CEO of the economic development organization Coalfield Development, said he’d argued that the legislation offered a way for the coal-producing region to “stay an energy state…. If we want to benefit from the investments and the jobs that are going to come with that transition, we need to be part of the proactive solutions and policies rather than constantly playing on defense.”

Jason Walsh, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, said several West Virginia companies pushed Manchin to back the credits as well — even suggesting failure to pass the bill imperiled their plans to invest in new operations. “There were folks who I can’t talk about who are directly involved in potentially developing clean energy manufacturing in the state of West Virginia where site visits had happened where all they needed was a set of investments,” Walsh said. “And that communication happened as well.”

A senior executive with a utility operating in Appalachia said that his company communicated with Manchin how aspects of the bill such as tax credits to build clean energy manufacturing plants at former coal sites and incentives for developing small nuclear reactors and hydrogen would help West Virginia’s economy.
“We know coal plants are ultimately going to close,” the executive said. “What is going to replace them? What are the jobs? What are we transitioning to? In this case, we are going to explore hydrogen, new nuclear and get manufacturing in the state.”

Form Energy, a battery storage startup backed by Gates’ Breakthrough Energy Ventures and which has plans for a West Virginia manufacturing hub, walked Manchin’s staff through its growth trajectories with and without the proposed suite of legislative incentives, a person directly familiar with the interaction said. That person said Form Energy officials showed the differences on a graph. Its investors — including Gates — also called to assuage Manchin’s concerns over disbursing the tax credits to companies through a direct pay system rather than using tax equity markets.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.