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Tour promoting federal clean energy funding starts in Charlotte

Sarah Fraser of New Belgium Brewing speaks Thursday before a workshop in Charlotte on how to apply for federal climate funding.
City of Charlotte
Sarah Fraser of New Belgium Brewing speaks Thursday before a workshop in Charlotte on how to apply for federal climate funding.

About 170 people attended a workshop in Charlotte on Thursday about how to apply for federal tax breaks and grants for clean energy projects to address climate change.

The event at Charlotte's Mint Museum uptown was the first stop on a multi-city "Cash In on Clean Energy Tour" organized by a coalition called America Is All In. Organizers say since the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed, $9.5 billion has been invested in North Carolina’s economy, creating over 3,600 clean energy jobs.

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles is co-chair of the group along with former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Washington governor Jay Inslee.

Sarah Fraser, a sustainability specialist at Asheville brewer New Belgium, told reporters before the workshop that the IRA is helping the company install equipment to recycle methane created during brewing.

"Thanks to some modifications to the investment tax credit from the IRA, we now have a solution that we're looking to implement that will allow us to capture that biogas and incorporate it into our boilers, reducing our consumption of natural gas, which is incredibly exciting for us because it can happen in a way that's not going to be cost prohibitive for the company," Fraser said.

The workshop was designed to help businesses, governments and residents find funding opportunities through the IRA.

"The Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law have created so many incredible new funding opportunities the Tar Heel state can tap into. These once-in-a-lifetime investments in clean energy and climate action mean new jobs and manufacturing in North Carolina,” former EPA administrator Gina McCarthy said in a statement.

White House clean energy adviser Karen Skelton called the Inflation Reduction Act "the most significant climate legislation in history, anywhere in the world," but added local governments and businesses must act on it.

"The Inflation Reduction Act itself will cut our polluting emissions to 40% below the 2005 levels in the next seven years. That is, by the end of this decade. In order to do that, we have to accept this huge challenge, since we sit today … at only 20% of where we need to be," Skelton said.

Similar events are planned through October. The tour parallels local visits by Biden administration officials to promote funding through the IRA and the bipartisan infrastructure law, including Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm's stop in Charlotte last month.

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