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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

U.S. energy chief starts southern EV tour to promote Biden agenda

 U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and EERE Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Berube listen to an explanation of lithium mining at Albemarle Corp. in Kings Mountain.
David Boraks
/
WFAE
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and EERE Deputy Assistant Secretary Michael Berube listen to an explanation of lithium mining at Albemarle Corp. in Kings Mountain.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm visited North Carolina Monday to begin a four-state Southeast tour to promote the Biden administration's climate policies, clean energy investments and new jobs.

Granholm started the day by touring Electric Power Research Institute in northeast Charlotte, where she learned about research to increase the capacity of electrical cables. Later in the morning she held two roundtable discussions at the Lowe's Tech Hub in South End.

The first was a conversation with energy executives who are developing technology that someday could allow power companies to draw electricity from home batteries and electric vehicles. Then she talked about clean energy with Gov. Roy Cooper and local business leaders.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm talks at a community town hall at Johnson C. Smith University on Monday, June 26, 2023.
Johnson C. Smith University
U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm talks at a community town hall at Johnson C. Smith University on Monday, June 26, 2023.

At a community town hall at Johnson C. Smith University, Granholm focused on the thousands of dollars in tax credits and rebates available to homeowners through the Inflation Reduction Act and other federal legislation. That includes money to install home solar panels and batteries, buy electric cars, and replace gas appliances and heating systems.

"In fact, there's $9 billion that will be put toward energy-efficient appliances starting in the fall," she said.

Granholm ended the day at Albemarle Corporation's lithium processing plant in Kings Mountain, where she talked about federal grants and tax breaks that are spurring investments by big businesses — and new jobs. Last fall, Albemarle won a $150 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to build a new plant to concentrate raw lithium for use in EV batteries.

"We wanted to come to the South because employers are coming to the South. And there, it's all of these irresistible federal tax incentives, so many of them are applying here. I wanted people to get excited about what the employers are doing," she said.

And, she added: "I wanted to come to the South because the president is really interested in ensuring that every pocket of America benefits from this agenda."

Granholm is traveling from city to city in a Cadillac Lyriq electric SUV. Her caravan of U.S. Energy Department officials and reporters also has two other EVs: a Ford F-150 Lightning and a Chevy Bolt.

The tour continues Tuesday in Columbia, South Carolina, before heading to Georgia and Tennessee.

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David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.