M-RCBG Associate Working Paper No. 206

Catalyzing Regional Energy Transitions: Improving Conditions for Inflation Reduction Act Implementation in Central Appalachia and Texas

Gray Bender
Shannen Maxwell

2023 Policy Analysis Exercise Prepared for Breakthrough Energy, U.S. Policy  & Advocacy Team

Executive Summary

Last year’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (H.R.5376) was a historic commitment by the United States toward achieving its climate goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 to 52 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. The bill unlocks an unprecedented $369 billion toward accelerating the clean energy transition. Not only will this funding enable massive deployment of renewables and help jump start new clean technology industries, it also presents a significant opportunity to support economic growth and development.

As the future of the clean energy economy begins to take shape, including every region in the U.S. is paramount to achieving the nation's climate goals while ensuring a just and equitable transition. Breakthrough Energy is one of the leading investors and policy advocates in the clean technology space. Their U.S. Policy and Advocacy team served as the client for this Policy Analysis Exercise, which investigates policy options that organizations like Breakthrough Energy can pursue to catalyze the clean energy transition.

This report focuses on two regions of particular interest: Appalachia and Texas. Both regions have played an important role in the history of U.S. energy production, and are well positioned to become leaders in decarbonizing the U.S. economy. Appalachian organizations, state and local governments, and communities can build upon early momentum in attracting cleantech manufacturing companies to scale a booming regional industry. Meanwhile, Texas is positioned to become a U.S. and global leader in producing and defining the future clean hydrogen economy. To realize this potential, however, each region will have to overcome barriers.

This report presents the evidence and recommendations for creating a fertile economic and political landscape to grow clean energy industries in Appalachia and Texas. These findings were developed through an extensive exercise of literature review, stakeholder mapping, and interviews. We use inductive reason to draw patterns and findings across critical stakeholders, including state and local government officials, advocacy and non-profit organizations, leading renewables developers and technology companies, and policy experts.

Through this work, we uncover five key tensions that present implementation challenges, as they reveal dichotomous, competing perspectives and priorities surrounding the transition. We also develop a set of enabling criteria to unlock paths forward through these barriers in Appalachia and Texas. Finally, we develop and present five core recommendations that can be undertaken by our client and policy advocacy organizations of all kinds. These recommendations serve as tools in a toolbox to support a holistic energy transition, rather than as a single, prescriptive solution.

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