Democrats’ Infrastructure Bill Includes Investment in Energy and Parks

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House Democrats’ infrastructure package, the Moving Forward Act, includes $70 billion for upgrading the nation’s energy infrastructure, promotes renewable energy, and invests in local parks and green stormwater management infrastructure. ASCE’s 2017 Infrastructure Report Card gave our nation’s energy and public parks categories each a grade of “D+,” and it found the 10-year investment gap for electricity to be $177 billion and for public parks to be over $102 billion. This significant investment will play an important role in helping raise the energy and public parks’ grades and ensuring these systems are modernized for the 21st century.

The Moving Forward Act provides $70 billion to improve the resilience, performance, and efficiency of the electricity grid. The bill creates both a research program and a technical assistance program for energy storage and microgrid systems, as well as a technical assistance and grant program to promote Smart Cities, Counties, and Communities clean energy solutions. It creates a grant program for solar installations located in, or that serve, low-income or underserved areas, and new programs are created and existing programs are amended to fund energy efficiency retrofits to homes, public buildings, and schools. The renewable production tax credit (PTC) and the investment tax credit (ITC) are extended, while ITC eligibility is expanded to energy storage projects. The bill allows renewable projects to quality for master limited partnerships, which is currently only available to fossil fuel projects. Moreover, it directs the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to issue a report and begin a rulemaking process to increase the construction of interstate transmission lines, which energy experts consider essential to fostering renewable energy growth.

The Outdoors for All Act (H.R. 4512), which ASCE has long supported, is included in the Moving Forward Act. This provision guarantees a source of funding up to $25 million to expand outdoor recreation opportunities in urban communities and promotes the development of public-private partnerships for such projects. Many of these parks provide dual-use spaces for both recreation and green stormwater management, such as a rain garden, which can soak up millions of gallons of rainwater to reduce combined sewer overflows (CSOs).

Finally, the bill requires all federal facilities to cut their energy intensities by 2.5% each year, as well as to lower their water use.

These investments in our nation’s energy and public parks infrastructure systems will play a crucial role in helping to close the growing infrastructure funding gap while bringing our infrastructure systems up to par for the 21st century. ASCE will continue engaging with Congress as this bill makes its way through the House of Representatives.

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