Ask Renewable Rayna: What is the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act?

The $1.2 trillion infrastructure and jobs act, now signed into legislation by President Joe Biden, is designed to allocate billions to update the country’s roads, bridges, and transport systems, as well as increase high-speed internet, renewable energy use, and the nation’s network of electric vehicle charging stations.

There are eight different categories for where the funding is slated to go, with most of the money focused on safe drinking water and highways.

“The infrastructure bill the President signed this week is a critical step in investing in our future,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said. “Now we’re focused on the next step.”

The U.S. market share of plug-in electric vehicle sales is only one-third the size of the Chinese EV market, but transportation officials hailed the legislation as a vital component of the administration’s strategy to assist the president meet his EV sales target. By 2030, he wants 50% of all new vehicles sold to be electric, including plug-in hybrid EVs with both electric and traditional internal combustion engines.

The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs legislation would fund $7.5 billion to help Biden achieve his target of 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations across the country by 2030.

Goldman Sachs analyst Mark Delany believes such incentives for EVs could make the total cost of buying a vehicle “more compelling and would broadly benefit” automakers by making their products more affordable to consumers.

But how will the money be used in Arkansas to spur EV adoption and the deployment of EV chargers?

The state of Arkansas is set to receive about $4.9 billion from the federal government over the next five years to go toward infrastructure. The legislation also offers tax credits for electric vehicles of up to $12,500, which would also be available at the point of sale.

$54 million over five years will be used to expand the state’s electric vehicle charging network, and Arkansans will also be able to apply for the $2.5 billion in grant funding put aside in the law for electric vehicle charging stations.

(EV Charging Station Installed by Today’s Power, Inc. at The Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality)

But the infrastructure package only covers a percentage of the costs required to construct a complete nationwide charging network. The national allocation of $7.5 billion is just around 15% of the $50 billion that is estimated to meet Biden’s target of 500,000 chargers nationwide by 2030. Experts estimate that it will need a combination of governmental and private sector spending to achieve this. However, the government is unlikely to provide the total sum of money. Companies that install infrastructure networks, such as utilities, automakers, charging companies, convenience stores, and gas stations, are likely to invest more.

The legislation will also deliver thousands of electric school buses nationwide, including in rural communities, to help school districts across the country buy clean, American-made, zero emission buses and replace the yellow school bus fleet for America’s children. The legislation invests in zero- and low-emission school buses, in addition to more than $5 billion in funding for public transit agencies to adopt low- and no-emissions buses. These investments will drive demand for American-made batteries and vehicles, creating jobs and supporting domestic manufacturing, while also removing diesel buses from some of our most vulnerable communities.

How will the Infrastructure and Jobs Law be Implemented?

President Biden issued an executive order creating a commission to supervise the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act after passing it into legislation. The executive order, according to the White House, orders that the funds be allocated in accordance with administration goals. These goals include employing American suppliers, creating union employment, and ensuring that the projects can resist the effects of climate change.

What is next?

Signing the infrastructure investment and jobs act into legislation was the first step in the Administration’s approach to government infrastructure investment in the United States. The larger social safety net and climate change bill, known as the Build Back Better Act, could have an even more direct impact on renewable energy use in the United States.

The Build Back Better bill proposes a $1.85 trillion social spending and climate change package. It contains many of the renewable energy industry’s most closely watched tax and other incentives.

Renewable Rayna will keep you updated with more information as it becomes available.