Editorial Roundup: Cities should be aggressive seeking clean energy funds

Published 8:50 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Why it matters: Billions of dollars from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law are ready for the taking if cities only apply.

Rochester got $3.2 million to buy two new electric buses. MnDOT got $1.5 million to buy propane fueled buses for Heartland Express and Prairieland Transit rural transit programs in southwest Minnesota.

The Metropolitan Council got $17 million for electric buses and charging stations.

Email newsletter signup

We’ve yet to see local communities getting big green energy wins like this from the funds provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also known as the Infrastructure and Jobs Act.

Mankato recently received $385,000 to fund a study of where to locate a new airport control tower. And that funding is welcome, no doubt, but we’d like to see local government dream bigger and get this money before other cities and states do.

Because much of the $1.2 trillion in funding from the infrastructure law requires states, local governments and even businesses to provide matching funds, it’s a competitive race for funding.

Minnesota was projected to get $7.4 billion in funds from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, with $6.1 billion of that requiring some level of state matching funds. About $5.3 billion was targeted to transportation infrastructure like roads, bridges and waterways.

The Minnesota Legislature approved $200 million in matching funds for cities, counties and businesses to tap to meet their requirements for matching funds on energy projects. Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, chief author of the bill, said it’s a “once in a lifetime opportunity to build out the energy transition infrastructure.”

Mankato has plans for adding electric vehicles in the upcoming budget, but left out efforts to acquire electric buses because its Xcel Energy consultants recommended not purchasing the buses in the short term due to concerns about range and cold Minnesota winters.

The cost issue seems like it has changed with the federal infrastructure money available that is going fast. And we don’t see how the winter is warmer in Rochester or the Twin Cities, making buses viable there but not here.

The city’s report was discussed in March, and many things have changed since then. We would urge the city to re-examine its rejection of buying buses and research how much federal money would be available. But it should act this year as the funding may be gone by next year.

Examples of a planet on fire make headlines every day with wildfires, flooding and hurricanes worsened by our continued use of fossil fuels.

These disasters takes lives, and now insurance companies are pulling out of disaster prone states.

All cities and counties must get a sense of urgency to reduce their use of fossil fuels. They can now do it with this “once in a lifetime” funding readily available.

— Mankato Free Press, Sept. 17

About Editorial Roundup

Editorials from newspapers around the state of Minnesota.

email author More by Editorial