As coal plants continue to shut down across the US, more projects are underway to turn them into clean energy facilities like solar farms, battery storage facilities, and hydrogen plants. Using retired coal plants for renewable energy is a natural choice, given that coal plants already have electric infrastructure in place and renewable energy projects can create new jobs and revenue. With 172 coal plants still active, the Inflation Reduction Act could help speed up the change to renewable energies by making the cost of transitioning cheaper. “That has the potential to be a lifeline because in a lot of these coal communities that are really rural, the coal plant can make up a really significant portion of the jobs and can make up a significant portion of the tax base that provides things like funding for schools and emergency services,” says Michelle Solomon, electricity policy analyst at Energy Innovation, an energy and climate think tank. In addition to offering tax credits for new renewable projects such as wind and solar power, the new climate law also supports the transition in other ways, including loans to help with the refinancing of debt for the old infrastructures. Although alternatives to wind and solar are being developed, improving climate change is urgent, as Solomon says, “we don’t really have time to wait as far as deploying the technologies that we have right now, as quickly as possible.”

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