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Grant Whittington headshot

Trump's Infrastructure Wish-List Includes Renewable Energy Investments


Last week a 50-page infrastructure priorities list, reportedly compiled by a consultancy on behalf of Donald Trump's transition team before the inauguration, surfaced on the Web. And some were surprised by the plentiful references to clean energy.  

First released by McClatchy and the Kansas City Star, the list includes 50 infrastructure projects totaling $137.5 billion, of which half is expected from private investment. The plan places an emphasis on transportation systems, calling for renovations and construction of highways, bridges and rail systems.

But the wish-list also seems to prioritize green energy, spelling out plans to invest in wind and solar.

  • Project No. 9: Plains and Eastern Electric Transmission Lines aims to move cheap, clean, wind energy from the western tip of Oklahoma to Memphis on a 720-mile transmission line. The project would bring enough clean energy for at least 1 million homes in the mid-South.

  • Project No. 12: Hydroelectric Plants operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The plan would replace 50-year-old turbines that fuel the production of clean energy within the hydro plant.

  • Project No. 16: TransWest Express Transmission will “reliably deliver cost-effective renewable energy produced in Wyoming” to California, Nevada and Arizona.

  • Project No. 17: Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy would create up to 1,000 wind turbines on a farm in Wyoming.

  • Project No. 21: Champlain Hudson Power Express will bring as much as 1,000 megawatts of clean and renewable energy to New York City.

  • Project No. 49: Energy Storage and Grid Modernization is targeted at minimizing the magnitude of potential blackouts in California by increasing storage for renewable energy. 

The projects above could add 9 gigawatts of clean power if it is finalized and placed into action.

The Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, along with the Trump’s infamous border wall, did not make appearances on the list of initiatives.

The construction and engineering for these projects would “keep the equivalent of 24,000 people employed for 10 years,” according to an analysis from Christopher Helman of Forbes.

The 9 GW of renewable power created from the short-list of projects is equivalent to five coal-fired power plants, enough to power around 5 million homes.

Senate Democrats were quick to respond to Trump’s infrastructure plan, releasing an infrastructure plan of their own. Only they scoffed at the low dollar count invested in Trump’s plan and one-upped the commander in chief to the tune of $1 trillion. The money would be spent over the next 10 years on highways, airports, schools and renewable energy.

Here’s a better breakdown of the plan (from Vox):

  • $210 billion to “repair crumbling roads and bridges”

  • $110 billion to upgrade local water and sewer systems

  • $180 billion to replace and expand existing rail and bus systems

  • $75 billion to “modernize America’s ports, airports and waterways”

  • $20 billion to expand high-speed broadband in unserved and underserved areas

  • $100 for energy infrastructure and grid modernization: “A permanent incentive would be given for electricity generation, transportation fuels and energy efficiency improvements.”
Trump’s leaked investment plan depends largely on private investment, while the Democrats’ proposal would be funded by direct federal spending. 

Keep in mind the Trump administration has yet to release an official infrastructure package. Will the final plan include these clean-energy projects, and could the administration even take a few cues from the Democrats' proposal?

Only time will tell. But out of all of the administration's proposed initiatives, infrastructure may hold the most potential for bipartisan collaboration.

Image credit: Flickr/Michael Vadon

Grant Whittington headshot

Based in Atlanta, GA, Grant is a nonprofit professional and freelance writer passionate about affordable housing and finding sustainable approaches to international development. A proud graduate of the University of Maryland, Grant spent four months post-grad living in Armenia where he worked for Habitat for Humanity and the World Food Programme. He enjoys playing trivia with friends but is still seeking his first victory - he ceaselessly blames his friends lack of preparation.

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