BlueGreen Alliance | Net-Zero School Tour Highlights New Federal Funding Opportunities with Clean Energy Tax Credits

Net-Zero School Tour Highlights New Federal Funding Opportunities with Clean Energy Tax Credits

June 21, 2024

Labor, education, and community leaders met Thursday at Forest Edge Elementary School in Fitchburg, WI to explore the clean tech upgrades made to the school that are examples of projects that would be eligible for brand new federal tax credits for school districts, municipalities, and other tax-exempt entities through a U.S. Treasury program called “direct pay,” which functions like a cash reimbursement from the IRS.

Under direct pay, schools and other tax-exempt entities can receive a payment equal to the full value of a tax credit included in the Inflation Reduction Act. These credits cover everything from installing solar and geothermal heat pumps to building out electric vehicle infrastructure to battery storage.

Historically, tax-exempt entities—such as schools—haven’t been able to access these kinds of tax credits. Now, they can get the tax credits back from the IRS in the form of a lump-sum payment. During the tour of the school, attendees saw examples of the kinds of projects that are now within reach for their eligible public entities.

Prior to the tour, the BlueGreen Alliance, alongside Deputy Assistant to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation Kristina Costa, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI), President of Forward Together Wisconsin Mandela Barnes, school district officials, and labor and community leaders, held a press conference highlighting the new access to federal support for upgrades to schools and other public buildings made possible by the Biden-Harris administration and Congress.

The tour was followed by a round table discussion during which attendees learned more about how to navigate the direct pay process and maximize the benefits of this new initiative to create good jobs in local communities.

“The upgrades made at the Forest Edge Elementary School are enormously impressive—and they are leading by example when it comes to using the direct pay benefits of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act,” said Kristina Costa, Deputy Assistant to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “We hope more schools, municipalities, universities, and other tax-exempt entities follow Forest Edge Elementary’s lead and use direct pay to reduce their energy costs, create good jobs, and share in the benefits of clean energy.”

“Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, which I proudly voted for in 2022, schools, hospitals, and universities across the state can upgrade to new, energy efficient, clean tech at a significantly lower cost than before, helping all of us reduce our carbon emissions,” Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI) said. “Thank you to the BlueGreen Alliance for working across our community to help make sure these energy saving programs are being used far and wide.”

“Through direct pay, eligible entities across the state will now have the chance to pursue projects that were once completely out of reach,” said Mandela Barnes, President of Forward Together Wisconsin. “Thanks to the Biden-Harris administration and Congress enacting historic climate and jobs laws, we are looking at a whole new world of opportunity.”

“We thank Forest Edge and the Oregon School District for welcoming us to their incredible school today. It’s one thing to talk about direct pay, but to actually be able to see the kinds of projects this provision can bring to fruition is wonderful,” said Carly Ebben Eaton, BlueGreen Alliance Wisconsin Policy Organizer. “We look forward to continuing to work to spread the word about direct pay to schools and other eligible entities across the state.”