The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), enacted in November 2021, includes $554 billion for more than 380 funding programs administered by different federal agencies. While a portion of the funds will be passed through states to administer, a substantial amount will be available directly as grants or loan programs to other eligible entities (such as utilities, local governments and tribal governments) for supporting projects that upgrade energy infrastructure and increase resilience, expand broadband access, develop water and sewer systems, and improve transportation.
The White House maintains a guidebook to all the programs, which includes information on program purpose and eligibility, the agency administering the program, funding amount and mechanism (grant, loan program, cooperative agreement, direct federal spending), and anticipated announcement date.
Accelerating use of EVs and improving transportation infrastructure
The IIJA includes $7.5 billion to build a nationwide network of charging stations for electric vehicles (EVs). It also includes $2.5 billion a year from 2022 to 2026 for funding opportunities to build out infrastructure to support EV charging, as well as further develop hydrogen, natural gas and propane as fuel sources. The funds will be administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and will be made available to states, metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and other public sector entities. Half the funds will be reserved for community grants of no more than $15 million per award amount.
The charging stations themselves can be a source of revenue for states and local municipalities; they can also be a lure to bring new business to a community. Communities also may benefit from the positive environmental impact associated with a shift to alternative fuel sources.
In addition to EV charging, 46% of IIJA funding will be made available for road and bridge projects, 11.5% to other transit projects and 8% to rail projects, all intended to update the nation’s transportation infrastructure.
Energy and power improvements and increased resilience
The IIJA also includes $5 billion for programs to improve and protect the electric grid. In particular, the IIJA provides funding opportunities to eligible entities for projects that support hardening efforts, reducing the risk of wildfires and lessening the likelihood and consequences of disruptive events.
In general, a grant awarded to an eligible entity may be used for activities, technologies, equipment and hardening measures to include:
Grants can also support the use or construction of distributed energy resources for enhancing a system’s adaptive capacity during disruptive events, including:
Grant opportunities will be rolled out over the next five years. Starting in July through August grants were made available to:
In August/September grant opportunities opened for energy storage demonstration projects, a long duration demonstration initiative and energy improvement in rural and remote areas. Other grants related to deployment of technologies to enhance grid flexibility as well as energy efficiency and conservation are also expected to be announced by the end of 2022.
The IIJA includes $42.45 billion for broadband infrastructure as well as mapping and adoption projects. With so much of our daily lives dependent on secure and stable internet access, taking advantage of IIJA's broadband funding will improve quality of life and equitable access, especially in rural and underserved communities. Communities can ensure their residents are able to stay connected affordably and consistently and have the ability to work remotely.
An eligible entity, such as a state or tribe, may use grant funds to fund the following projects:
The Act includes $2.75 billion to promote digital equity through the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program (to support implementation and digital inclusion initiatives) and the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program.
The IIJA also includes $1 billion to expand and extend infrastructure to reduce the cost of connecting unserved and underserved areas to the internet. Funds are also available to promote broadband resilience by creating alternative network connection paths designed to prevent single points of failure on broadband networks.
The Act provides $14 billion to provide $30 per month vouchers for low-income families to use toward any internet service plan of their choosing.
Water and wastewater infrastructure
The IIJA provides $55 billion in new water infrastructure programs, much of which will flow through the Environmental Protection Agency and State Revolving Funds programs. These programs are designed to provide clean water in more communities, reduce the amount of lead in drinking water, sustain small public water systems, improve public water systems on tribal lands, and fund storm water infrastructure programs.
A water/sewer utility looking to upgrade old water mains and remove contaminants from storm water — a project that might be outside the scope of their operating budget — could use these funds for this upgrade.
Other funding categories
In addition to the funding categories listed above, IIJA also offers funding opportunities for airports and aviation, environmental remediation, passenger and freight rail, ports and waterways, and safety.
Accessing IIJA funds
Local utilities, governments and tribes have been the target of a large influx of federal dollars in the last couple of years. Navigating the various programs to find the ones that best fit a community’s needs is not an easy task. In a related article, we will provide tips for developing a cohesive, collaborative plan to prioritize community needs and effectively start the grant writing process.
For more information or to learn how Baker Tilly's public sector grant specialists can help your organization, contact our team.