The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the second cohort of communities selected as part of the Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP), a technical assistance initiative intended to assist disadvantaged communities and those with historical ties to fossil fuel industries take control of their clean energy future. The 30 selected communities will receive a total of $18m in technical assistance to develop action plans that “reduce local air pollution, increase energy resilience, lower utility costs and energy burdens, and create good paying jobs”.

Secretary of Energy Jennifer M Granholm noted: “Through in-depth, customized technical assistance, Communities LEAP helps give local governments, Tribes, and community-based organisations an extra boost to further their progress of actionable plans that lower costs while protecting the health and safety of all residents.”

Communities LEAP, first launched in September 2021 as a pilot initiative, seeks to assist community-led transitions to a clean energy economy, and to build a healthier, more equitable, and sustainable future.  It also implements the Justice40 commitment, which aims to ensure that federal agencies deliver at least 40% of benefits from certain investments to disadvantaged communities and advances the work of the Interagency Working Group on Coal & Power Plant Communities. 

The 30 selected applicants will work with DOE and its network of technical assistance providers, as well as local coalition partners, including local and tribal governments, community-based organizations, utilities, environmental justice, economic development, and equitable investment organizations to develop roadmaps that utilise clean energy as a tool for economic development. This will include areas of interest including, but not limited to:

  • Clean Energy Planning and Development
  • Energy Efficient Buildings and Beneficial Electrification Planning and Investment
  • Clean Transportation Planning and Investment
  • Carbon Capture and Storage
  • Critical Minerals Resource Potential from Energy Wastes and By-products
  • Community Resilience Microgrids
  • New or Enhanced Manufacturing
  • Advanced Nuclear Technology and Support for Existing Reactors
  • Puerto Rico Community Resilience

Communities LEAP is managed by DOE’s Office of State & Community Energy Programs and offered in partnership with DOE’s Offices of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, Fossil Energy & Carbon Management, Electricity, Nuclear Energy, Manufacturing & Energy Supply Chains, Indian Energy, Policy, and Energy Justice & Equity.

Image: A coal-burning power plant in in Colstrip, Montana (courtesy of USDOE)