- Biden will fund nine manufacturers with $169 million from last year’s climate bill
- Funding is the first under emergency authority on the basis of climate change
- Biden is using the powers under Defense Production Act to boost green energy
President Joe Biden will use special wartime powers to boost US production of heat pumps, by funding nine manufacturing projects with $169 million from last year’s climate bill, the Energy Department said on Friday.
The awards were granted under the emergency authority of the Cold War-era Defense Production Act (DPA), which Biden invoked on the basis of climate change to boost spending on clean energy technology.
‘The President is using his wartime emergency powers under the Defense Production Act to turbocharge US manufacturing of clean technologies and strengthen our energy security,’ said Biden’s National Climate Advisor Ali Zaidi in a statement.
Heat pumps can heat and cool homes and businesses more efficiently using thermal transfer, which moves heat from one area to another, rather than generating new heat.
The announcement was the latest in a series of moves to push the US toward more efficient home appliances, and was met with fury by the American Gas Association, a lobbying group for the natural gas industry.
‘We are deeply disappointed to see the Defense Production Act, which is intended as a vital tool for advancing national security against serious outside threats, being used as an instrument to advance a policy agenda contradictory to our nation’s strong energy position,’ AGA President and CEO Karen Harbert said in a statement.
Harbert called natural gas a ‘vital tool for emissions reductions and energy system resilience’ and said the industry ‘should not be unfairly undermined through misuse of the Defense Production Act.’
Natural gas is primarily composed of methane. About 60 percent of American homes use it for space and water heating, according to the US Energy Information Agency.
The Energy Department estimates that heating and cooling buildings in the US accounts for more than 35 percent of the country’s energy consumption.
Compared to gas boilers, heat pumps reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 50 percent, according to the agency.
The new funding is the latest step the Biden administration has taken to push more efficient home appliances, after proposing tighter standards for water heaters and dishwashers.
‘Getting more American-made electric heat pumps on the market will help families and businesses save money with efficient heating and cooling technology,’ said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.
John Podesta, Biden’s senior advisor for clean energy innovation and implementation, said the DPA funds for heat pumps ‘show that President Biden is treating climate change as the crisis it is.’
‘These awards will grow domestic manufacturing, create good-paying jobs, and boost American competitiveness in industries of the future,’ he said in a statement.
The funding will go to manufacturers including Armstrong International in Michigan, Honeywell International in Louisiana, and Ice Air in South Carolina.
In at least two cases, the funds will support the construction of new factories: a Mitsubishi Electric US plant in Kentucky, and a Gradient factory in Michigan.
The administration says the funds will help create an estimated 1,700 new jobs.
The Energy Department said it expects to unveil another round of DPA investments in early 2024.
Biden has invoked his wartime powers under the DPA several times during his presidency.
In March, he invoked the DPA to spend $50 million on domestic and Canadian production of printed circuit boards, citing the technology’s importance to national defense.
He has also used the DPA powers in a recent executive order requiring developers of artificial intelligence systems that pose risks to US national security, the economy, public health or safety to share the results of safety tests with the U.S. government.