More Power - New Initiatives Can Supercharge Kansas

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BY ZACK PISTORA, Sierra Club Kansas Chapter Lobbyist

Start the countdown… Kansas is about to blast off! Kansas is poised to benefit big-time from the billions of dollars Congress allocated for upgrading American infrastructure with the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment Act.

What does this mean for the Sierra Club? The Kansas Chapter will be working hard over the coming months to educate community leaders and legislators and advocate for maximizing investment in statewide programs to protect water, save energy and make our state more equitable, eco-friendly, and resilient.

Kansas homeowners could benefit from fewer lead pipes, better access to high-speed internet, modern appliances and energy-efficient improvements, rooftop solar, and electric vehicles.

Here’s the breakdown of funding for Kansans, according to White House fact sheets.

Safer Drinking Water and Lead Pipe Replacement
More than $479 million is allocated for clean drinking water infrastructure, with around $79 million for FY 2022 including $33 million for replacement of lead pipes and lines.  The National Resources Defense Council says Kansas ranks third highest for lead pipes per capita and has an estimated 160,000 or more lead lines.
Expanded Broadband Access
Kansas will receive more than $100 million to expand high-speed internet access, with dedicated funding to reduce costs for low-income households. A recent University of Kansas Study found that over 1 million Kansans have less-than-adequate internet.
Lowering Home Energy Footprints
• No income restrictions will apply to tax credits for 30% of the cost of installing solar panels and battery storage, energy saving home improvements, and HVAC upgrades. These credits will be available from 2023-2032.
• Starting in 2023, Kansans may be eligible, depending on income level, for rebates covering 50-100% of the cost of installing new electric appliances, including super-efficient heat pumps, water heaters, clothes dryers, stoves, and ovens (up to annual spending limits).
• For the next 10 years, new home buyers can qualify for tax credits of $2,500 for Energy Star homes or $5,000 for certified zero-energy homes
Want to buy an electric vehicle?
• Wait until 2023 and you might qualify for an income tax credits of $4,000 for a used electric vehicle or $7,500 for a new electric vehicle.
• And if recharging stations have been a concern, KDOT calculates that Kansas will receive $39.5 million for electric vehicle infrastructure over the next 5 years.
• The property tax credit for EV refueling stations is extended through 2032 and funds are available to provide EV chargers for rural and low-income communities.
Our Farmers Have Not Been Forgotten
Sierra Club strongly supports a transition to sustainable, regenerative agriculture. More money will be distributed to Kansas farmers for improving soil health and adopting clean/efficient energy through enrollment in USDA’s conservation and energy programs: the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and the Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP).
Financial Incentives for Businesses and Utilities to Reduce Emissions and Adopt Clean Energy
• Some of our largest industrial polluters, like cement and chemical plants, as well as other industrial manufacturing facilities, will be eligible for grants and tax credits to reduce emissions.
• Oil and gas interests will get money to reduce methane emissions before fees on methane emissions go into effect in 2024.
• Businesses, utilities, and owners of commercial buildings can receive tax credits for energy efficiency improvements that dramatically cut building and use costs.
• An employer can multiply its credits by meeting prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements or by making improvements in low-income communities or where coal plants are retired. 
Over the next decade, utility-scale energy providers will receive a significant tax credit for building clean energy and emissions-free projects. Clean energy technology, electric vehicle manufacturers, and electric transmission developers will get tax breaks and cost-share advantages on loans.  Biofuels and aviation sectors will get receive credits for advancing renewable and sustainable fuels through 2024.
State, Local, and Tribal Governments, and Educational Institutions Can Get Help Too
Cash-hungry government and nonprofit entities, including municipal utilities and electric cooperatives, can elect a ‘direct pay’ option for cash up front instead of a tax credit for most programs. 
• Environmental and climate justice block grants are available for investment in  disadvantaged or frontline communities.
• Governments can get grants for adoption of updated building energy codes, to save the average new homeowner in Kansas 25.9% on their utility bills—$712 annually.
• Research and implementation of advanced clean energy projects can be funded by planning and implementation grants for reduction of air pollution.
• In 2022 alone, about $33 million is allocated for infrastructure ‘resilience’ projects to protect Kansans from continued climate change and extreme weather disasters.
• Funding is also available for research and implementation of advanced clean energy projects, like hydrogen, energy storage, and carbon sequestration.
These are just some of the financial incentives and new programs covered by the transformational investment legislation passed by Congress.
Editorial Note. No Republicans voted for the Inflation Reduction Act. Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall were among the 31 Republicans who voted against the Infrastructure Investment Act.