Biden Proposes $2.3 Trillion Infrastructure Package
President Joe Biden unveiled the details of his proposed $2.3 trillion “infrastructure” plan which includes $621 billion to modernize transportation infrastructure, $400 billion to help care for the aging and those with disabilities, $300 billion to boost the manufacturing industry, $213 billion for retrofitting and building affordable housing, and $100 billion to expand broadband access.
Specifically, the plan calls for modernizing 20,000 miles of roads, building 500,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, replacing the country’s existing lead pipes and service lines, repairing aging schools, expanding home care for the elderly and disabled, and investing billions of dollars in domestic semiconductor manufacturing.
The plan also includes a mandate that more of the country’s electricity be generated from low-carbon sources, with a goal of eliminating carbon emissions from the power grid by 2035.
For electric co-ops, the plan includes a key provision that would make not-for-profit electric co-ops eligible for the first time for direct-pay investment tax credits and production tax credits for clean energy generation and storage projects. The tax credits are expanded and extended for 10 years. Tax-exempt co-ops would finally get incentives comparable to those provided to for-profit companies to develop energy technologies.
Rep Ron Kind Introduces $94 Billion Broadband Legislation
Congressman Ron Kind (D-Wisconsin) introduced the Accessible, Affordable Internet for All Act this week, which would invest more federal dollars in internet infrastructure for rural broadband expansion. Kind’s bill would add $94 billion to the effort of bringing affordable high-speed connections to underserved communities.
According to Kind’s office, Wisconsin ranks 36th in the nation for broadband access and one-fifth of the state’s population is “underserved,” or has limited access to high-speed internet. More than 899,000 people in Wisconsin have access to only one internet provider, with nearly 200,000 people living in communities without any wired internet providers. Kind serves on the House Rural Broadband Task Force and cited rural internet as one of his most important legislative priorities.
“The internet is a necessity and has fundamentally changed the way we learn, communicate, access information, and conduct business, particularly throughout the COVID-19 crisis,” Kind said in a news release.
Wisconsin Declines to Join pipeline Lawsuit
Twenty-one states, not including Wisconsin, have filed a lawsuit opposing the actions of President Joe Biden to revoke the permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, which connects the United States to Canada. The lawsuit, led by Texas and Montana, argues that only Congress, not Biden, has the authority to change the policy. According to the complaint, Biden’s order “cites no statutory or other authorization permitting the President to change energy policy as set by Congress in this manner.”
Biden revoked the pipeline permit on his first day in office as part of his plan to lower emissions and combat climate change. The Keystone XL pipeline was already under construction at the time, and opponents say Biden’s action cost thousands of jobs for Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and New York. Two Wisconsin contractors, Michels Corp. and Precision Pipeline, were hired to work on the project which they say included 2,000 construction jobs for the state.
Wisconsin Congressman Bryan Steil proposed a long-shot bill to reauthorize the pipeline last month, arguing that halting the project not only costs jobs, but will also result in higher prices at the gas pump, as
people work to recover from the financial implications of the pandemic.
Outgoing NRECA President Curtis Wynn Lauds Charge EV
As he concluded his presidency of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Curtis Wynn applauded the cooperative collaboration that led to the creation of Charge EV. In a discussion on “The Brilliance (and Resilience) of the Cooperative Model,” and again in his closing remarks, Wynn said co-ops must embrace change, noting Charge EV is a great example of that.
“What I’m seeing is many of our leaders turning challenges into opportunities,” Wynn said, noting this is a time of disruption and edge-of-grid technology is happening at a rapid pace.
Through Charge EV, participating co-ops install co-op-branded public-use Level 2 and Level 3 chargers and offer in-home “smart” chargers that have intelligence built in to allow for load control and time-of-use rates. The program is intended to ease range anxiety and promote the use of electric vehicles.
Charge EV is a network of cooperatives from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois, and Iowa, but most of the initial participating co-ops are in Wisconsin.
Foxconn’s Wisconsin Site May Produce Electric Vehicles
Foxconn says it will announce in May what it plans to do with its Mount Pleasant campus, which may include production of electric vehicles. Foxconn originally planned to manufacture LED screens at the facility, then shifted gears to produce ventilators and masks in 2020 until the need was met.
California automaker Fisker has announced that it is partnering with Foxconn for the production of its second vehicle.
“While the exact location has yet to be determined, Fisker Chief Executive Henrik Fisker said there is a very good chance initial production will be in the U.S., in part because Foxconn already has a factory in Wisconsin,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
Foxconn said that its foothold in Mount Pleasant made the connection with Fisker possible.