The US Department of Energy's (DOE) Communities Local Energy Action Program (LEAP) has chosen the Alachua County EMPOWER Program to receive technical assistance. Their assistance will advance clean energy-related economic development in the County. Communities LEAP is a first-of-its-kind initiative designed to help energy-overburdened communities take direct control of their clean energy future.
Partners in this effort include the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee (NAACP ECJC); Alachua County; City of Gainesville-Gainesville Regional Utilities; Gainesville Community Reinvestment Area and Economic Development and Innovation Department; and the Community Weatherization Coalition/Rebuilding Together North Central Florida (CWC/RTNCF).
"This technical assistance is an important first step in addressing the critical energy burden for our low-income neighbors," said John Nix, NAACP ECJC project lead.
The partnership will receive support from DOE to create community-wide action plans that reduce local air pollution, increase energy resilience, lower utility costs and energy burdens, and provide long-term jobs and economic opportunities. In addition, the Project EMPOWER team will work with DOE and its technical assistance providers to develop roadmaps for clean energy economic development pathways.
Marianne Schmink, a CWC representative, said, "We're eager to build a framework for greater energy resiliency in our marginalized communities."
DOE awarded 22 communities nationally with technical assistance. Alachua County was the only recipient in the State of Florida.
The inaugural Communities LEAP localities will pursue strategies for planning and investment in:
- Energy-efficient buildings and beneficial electrification
- Clean energy development
- Resilient microgrids and energy storage
- Vocational and related industry opportunities