Two Bay Area cities are receiving help with developing their clean energy economies through a program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Richmond and San Jose are part of 22 communities nationwide and four in the state receiving the federal assistance. They were selected as part of the Communities Local Energy Action Program, or Communities LEAP, which aims to help energy-overburdened communities.

Each selected community will get help from the Energy Department with creating plans to reduce air pollution, lower utility costs and provide jobs and economic opportunity, among other things.

“Communities across the country must be able to take advantage of these historic investments in clean energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, and clean transportation.”

Mitch Landrieu, White House senior advisor and infrastructure coordinator

Other work involves energy storage, carbon capture and storage, cleaner transportation, the development of clean energy, critical minerals recovery, and providing opportunities in manufacturing and industry.

“The President committed to making a historic investment in our clean energy future and environmental justice,” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm when the LEAP program recipients were announced in late March. “(W)e will use the power of the Federal government, DOE’s National Labs and other experts to help our communities develop clear, actionable plans to reimagine their energy future and protect the health and safety of all residents.”

Training workers for the transition

San Jose officials see the need not only to retrain workers who might lose their jobs during the transition to clean energy, but also the need to train additional workers because the existing workforce cannot handle all the work that needs to be done.

Technical assistance through Communities LEAP will provide the selected communities with access to other Energy Department and federal programs, including those included in the $1.3 trillion Congress earmarked for infrastructure.

Forty percent of the benefits from Communities LEAP will be delivered to disadvantaged communities. Communities LEAP also ensures federal investment is made in hard-hit energy communities through the Interagency Working Group on Coal and Power Plant Communities.

“Communities across the country must be able to take advantage of these historic investments in clean energy infrastructure, energy efficiency, and clean transportation,” said Mitch Landrieu, White House senior advisor and infrastructure coordinator.

“Technical assistance programs like Communities LEAP will help ensure these communities are prepared for the many funding opportunities available from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law as we transition to a clean energy economy,” Landrieu said.

The two other communities in California to be selected for the assistance are the city of Bakersfield and Kern County.

Keith Burbank is currently a fulltime reporter covering Alameda County and Oakland news for Bay City News. He has also worked on the Data Points project for Local News Matters, finding trends and stories about the region through data. In 2019, he was a California Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for Health Journalism, producing a series about homeless deaths in Santa Clara County. He worked as a swing shift editor for the newswire for several years as well. Outside of journalism, Keith enjoys computer programming, math, economics and music.