Building Back Better with Historic Climate Investments

Enacting this legislation will put us on the path toward President Biden’s goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2030.

A Cherry Street Energy crew installing solar panels at the Palisades Office Park near Interstate 285 in Atlanta, Georgia, on June 24, 2021

Credit: Dustin Chambers for NRDC

Enacting this legislation will put us on the path toward President Biden’s goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2030.


The House of Representatives just passed Build Back Better legislation that includes the largest investment in history to clean up the nation’s electric power sector. Enacting this historic legislation will put us on the path toward President Biden’s goal of 80 percent clean electricity by 2030. The bill contains more than $150 billion in clean electricity tax incentives as well as more than $25 billion for clean energy loans, grants, research, procurement, and other essential programs.

Tax incentives are critical to driving clean energy deployment and reducing the cost of renewables and other clean energy resources. The tax incentives included in the legislation are designed with greater flexibility and for increased access to usher in the fastest build-out of renewables the country has ever seen. New bonus credits for projects built in accordance with strong labor standards, using domestically produced components, or based in low-income and energy-transition communities will yield good-paying jobs and drive equitable access to clean energy resources.

In every region across the country, the deployment of existing renewable technologies like onshore wind and solar will accelerate as will newer, advanced technologies such as offshore wind. Billions of dollars in federal investments—both grants and loans—will support rural, tribal, and traditionally fossil energy–dependent communities as they transition to a vibrant clean energy economy. State and local governments and agencies as well as low-income, tribal, and disadvantaged communities will benefit from this funding to address air pollution and reduce power sector emissions.

The incentives in this legislation go well beyond the core renewable energy tax credits and agency funding to include:

  1. additional incentives for solar and wind projects built in low-income communities and on tribal land;
  2. $5 billion to invest in low-carbon projects in communities impacted by closures of fossil infrastructure like refineries or coal plants;
  3. $9.7 billion for loans and grants to transition rural electric co-ops away from fossil fuels;
  4. grants and loans of more than $2 billion and an $11 billion tax credit to build much-needed electricity transmission lines, connecting wind farms in the Great Plains or solar fields in Texas with electricity customers from San Diego to Boston.

Community and Economic Benefits

As we transition to 80 percent clean electricity by 2030, communities from coast to coast will see enormous climate and public health benefits. Analyses have shown that achieving 80 percent to 86 percent zero-emission electricity by 2030 would drive a greater than 80 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels, as well as 88 percent to 98 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions and 71 percent to 91 percent reductions in the compounds that cause smog and acid rain.

These pollution reductions will reduce climate impacts and improve local air quality—protecting communities from devastating climate catastrophes, allowing families to breathe easier, and reducing the toll of harmful pollution on low-income communities and communities of color. In fact, according to a report by the Clean Energy Futures project, driving the power sector to being 80 percent clean by 2030 will save more than $1 trillion in health costs as well as hundreds of thousands of lives.

Tremendous economic and job creation benefits will be generated in the clean energy transition. Wind and solar jobs are already one of the country’s fastest-growing employment categories and a just-released analysis by E2 shows that there are clean energy jobs in every congressional district in the country—including roughly the same number in Democratic and Republican districts. More than 99 percent of districts have more than 1,000 clean energy jobs already. Accelerating the deployment and transmission of clean energy resources will lead to even more dramatic job growth. Achieving 80 percent clean electricity by 2030 will lead to a net increase of 500,000 to 1 million net new jobs per year according to analysis by Energy Innovation. Substantial investments in deployment of new clean energy resources and transmission infrastructure will also generate significant economic activity across the country and drive demand for new, innovative technologies.

As a complement to the Build Back Better legislation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should move forward to propose strengthened Clean Air Act standards to clean up the electricity system. The combination of those standards and investments will set the power sector on course to 80 percent clean electricity by 2030 while achieving significant climate, local air pollution, public health, economic and jobs benefits.



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