By Naomi Schroeder
Board Member | Minneapolis Climate Action
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022 will provide around $370 billion in funding for climate solutions. While some provisions were changed to encourage Senator Joe Manchin’s approval, this deal may provide historic changes for the U.S. in terms of climate change mitigation. Let’s break down how this will impact large renewable energy efforts along with smaller-scale efforts like Minneapolis Climate Action’s work with community solar gardens. (A Matter of Degrees Podcast)
Investor-owned utilities, like Excel Energy are eligible entities under the IRA’s Solar Integration and System Reliability Initiative. However, to secure financial assistance from this initiative, the project needs to reach a storage capacity of 1,000 megawatts. Translated, large-scale solar farms benefit from this funding. Within the IRA, Section 40431 outlines clean energy projects that include a form of renewable energy technology, create good jobs, avoid or reduce CO2 emissions, and reside in a location accessible to “economically distressed areas” (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act).
Grants are being distributed for commercial energy audits to push more efficient systems for lighting, HVAC, windows, appliances and insulation. Loans will be offered for residential energy audits so individuals can better understand what transitions they can make for cost-effective reductions in energy use. (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act).
Incentives for individuals and families to add solar systems to their homes include a 30% federal tax credit. It is estimated that this could contribute to $1000 in savings annually and enable 7.5 million families to install solar. (Solar United Neighbors)
For smaller-scale projects and non-profit organizations like Minneapolis Climate Action, direct pay options will be used in lieu of tax incentives. “Starting in 2023, small community solar projects (under 1 MW) will qualify for a base Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30% through 2033” (Solar United Neighbors). Additional credits will be provided if the project holds characteristics like the location at a brownfield site, a low-income community, or tribal land, or if it is a part of a low-income residential building project.
Rhodium Group and Energy Innovation both produced data illustrating the possible impact of the Inflation Reduction Act on climate change in the United States. Their analysis differed by 1%, finding that, by 2030, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions will be 40% below 2005 levels. Energy Innovation has created a free and open policy simulator in which you can customize certain policies and see their climate impact. (Evergreen Action)
While some provisions of this act are not all great, policy-makers and climate researchers seem to be hopeful about the progress. As a smaller-scale non-profit working to implement solar gardens in our communities, so are we. If you want to learn more about Minneapolis Climate Action and our work, click here.
My name is Chris Torres, and I am one of the newest Board of Directors members at Minneapolis
Climate Action (MCA). I am a graduate student in the Masters of Advocacy and Political Leadership
(MAPL) program at Metro State, and an alum of the University of Minnesota Solar Vehicle Project. I am
also an ardent bicycle commuter and the Warehouse Coordinator for Free Bikes 4 Kidz MN. I’m a big
believer in promoting bicycles as a legitimate form of transportation to combat climate change. As the
great Bill Nye once said, “There’s no machine known that is more efficient than a human on a bicycle.
Bowl of oatmeal, 30 miles — you can’t come close to that.”
My interest in climate advocacy might be traced back to my first camping trip with my dad, or
the environmental science class I took in high school, but I think I started taking it seriously while
working on the U of M Solar Vehicle Project. We were a group of undergraduate students proving to the
world that we could make a two-passenger vehicle powered entirely by the sun. I raced with the team at
the 2015 Bridgestone World Solar Challenge, a five-day endurance race across the Australian outback.
We placed 5 th in the world in our vehicle class. It gave me the opportunity to be a clean energy advocate
on a global stage. I have since turned away from the engineering world, but my passion for this work
hasn’t changed. Now that I’m pursuing my MAPL degree, I plan to use it to pursue a career in climate
justice and the clean energy transition.
I found Minneapolis Climate Action while researching community solar projects for one of my
classes. I was designing a communication and organizing campaign plan for a community solar model
that was catered to renters in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Naturally, Minneapolis Climate Action’s solar
gardens showed up in my research. At the end of the semester, I emailed Kyle Samejima, Executive
Director of MCA, and asked if there was any way I could help support Minneapolis Climate Action. The
rest is history!
I’ve lived in Minneapolis for 10 years as a student, a renter, and finally a homeowner. I’ve felt
the pressure to go solar, but I haven’t had the money to do it. I also believe that the clean energy
transition is taking so long because we’re waiting for big energy companies that only care about profit to
drive the change. Change isn’t a priority for them; they like things the way they are. MCA’s community
solar project is special – it’s solar energy by the people, for the people. We are involving our subscribers
in every step of this process, and giving them every opportunity to make this their own. Our dream is to
have the neighborhoods own the clean energy infrastructure, as well as the benefits that come with it.
We’re bringing solar energy to low- and middle-income folks, and people that have been left out of the
solar revolution up to this point. For Minneapolis Climate Action, equity comes first.
A War Against the Climate
By Wendy Ponte
Board Member | Minneapolis Climate Action
Here at Minneapolis Climate Action, we stand with the Ukrainian people and deplore the destruction that Russia has inflicted upon them. The loss of lives and homes is unfathomable. At this writing, over ten million Ukrainians have become refugees.
The horror of what is happening right now is so intense that most of us don’t even have the capacity to understand the impact that this war will have on our environment. There is a terrible loss of life occurring every day in Ukraine — but how many lives may be lost in the future due to the climate damage and pollution that war causes?
Below is just a short list of the environmental damage that extreme military activity creates. Read on to the end to find out about an additional climate threat that comes from our very own country that is directly related to the war in Ukraine.
What war does to harm our planet:
It’s so easy for us to blame an outside entity, such as Russia, for the climate damage that this war is creating. Unfortunately, though, there is a climate threat right here in the United States that is a direct result of the war in Ukraine.
Within hours of the attack on Ukraine, the American Petroleum Institute, who represent all the major oil and gas companies in this country, began to ask for deregulation right now. Their claim: they can save the day and provide fuel to Europe and other countries whose sources are being taken away by sanctions.
Find out more about that by watching the short video, U.S. Oil & Gas Companies Trying to Profit From War in Ukraine.
When Ukrainians are finally able to return home (those that can), they will not only have to cope with what military conflict has done to their homeland, but also the health hazards that are sure to follow.
But unfortunately, the climate damage created by this war will also affect you and me, and everyone else on the planet, in the years ahead.
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