By Grace Hood
Stacking The Savings: Tips For Local Governments, Residents, and Businesses To Maximize IRA Funding
With $369 billion in climate and clean energy investments, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is the most significant climate bill in American history. That’s just one reason why media outlets used words like “sweeping” and “expansive” to describe it in 2022.
Now that the IRA is one year old, there are many other reasons to rejoice. While it’s still evolving, there are already a host of valuable resources that help residents, businesses, and local governments maximize opportunities and funding dollars.
Here’s our list of favorite explainers, toolkits, and calculators related to the IRA:
Explainers for Residential Updates
- Energy.gov has user-friendly pages for homeowners, renters, and drivers to explore rebates. We like this page because it doesn’t leave renters out of the equation. Although, admittedly, the IRA offers less to this group.
- Rewiring America has our favorite personalized incentive calculator based on zip code. What makes it helpful is the “timeline” column that tells users when rebates and tax incentives come online. One year into the IRA, not all incentives are completely live.
- Wild Grid is a great resource for easy-to-digest, emoji-friendly explainers on electrical panel updates, the installation of solar panels, heat pumps, and the importance of a tight building envelope. We like this as an approachable compendium of resources for homeowners looking to electrify but don’t know where to start.
Resources For Businesses
- Environmental Defense Fund lists which sectors have the most energy-intensive uses and suggests key upgrades. Check out their Building Efficiency, Renewable Energy and/or Fleet Electrification guides. We like it because EDF’s guide for businesses lists specific IRA provisions and expected savings.
Beyond IRA funding, the business sector has numerous funding opportunities. For example, the Fleet Zero-Emission Resource Opportunity (Colorado) just closed round one of funding June 30, 2023 but more rounds will be offered to help private and public fleets become electric. Funding will cover light, medium-and, heavy-duty fleets. And don’t forget about stacking funding with utility rebates. For example, Xcel Energy’s page for businesses lists all available rebates, cost savings and new building programs. Finally, look to unique financing options like C-PACE (Colorado) for financing your projects.
Resources for Local Governments
- The Big Picture. This Sabin Center blog at Columbia Law School offers a great primer of the different money pots that could go to local governments—from Climate Pollution Reduction Grants to code adoption to transportation planning. C40’s guidebook for the IRA can help local governments think more strategically about where to focus resources over the next five years. You can’t do it all. We like it because it breaks down complex topics like air quality and housing into bite size chunks.
- Centering Equity. At the core of IRA and equity is the Justice 40 Initiative, which works toward putting 40 percent of beneficials from grants, programs, and initiatives into disadvantaged communities. With states now digesting federal guidance on how to administer the Home Efficiency Rebates (HER) and Home Electrification and Appliance Rebates (HEAR) programs, local governments can play an important connecting role for homeowners across income levels. We’ve been tracking ACEEE’s Leading with Equity initiative, which produced this guidebook for local governments. Urban Sustainability Directors Network also has a good guidebook for centering equity in energy program design. We also like this recent RMI post that mentions the importance of stacking incentives
- Workforce Development. Cities, counties, and nonprofits can think creatively and have a role to play in convening stakeholders and setting up training. A policy brief out of Towson University has ideas for developing public-private partnerships. If you’re looking for a soup-to-nuts explainer on engagement around this topic, Xcel Energy’s Partners in Energy Workforce Development Toolkit is a great start.
Over to you, dear readers. What resources have you found the most useful in your day-to-day navigation of the IRA? What are the most frequent questions you get? Please respond below and keep the conversation going.
About the Author – A skilled communicator and facilitator, Grace has experience in developing programs related to building electrification and climate change resilience and adaptation. Most recently, Grace helped develop Boulder County’s first-ever extreme heat emergency response plan and public outreach toolkit, both of which had an equity focus. She also has experience working within municipal government co-leading regional collaborations on public health, climate change, and air quality monitoring.
Before her planning career, Grace worked for more than a decade as a public radio journalist in Colorado reporting on energy, the environment, and climate change. Much of her work involved taking complex topics and translating them into compelling stories for a general audience. In 2020, Grace received a Ted Scripps Environmental Journalism Fellowship which she used to study data analysis and visualization at the University of Colorado Boulder.
As an urban planner, Grace is committed to reducing the impact of climate change on disproportionately impacted communities. She is passionate about communicating technical information in a relatable, easy-to-understand way for general audiences.