IRA : The Largest Energy Bill in American History

The Biden Administration and Congress have won a historic achievement for IBEW members and their families with the Inflation Reduction Act. The enormous energy and tax package will put IBEW members to work in family-sustaining jobs for the secure, self-reliant grid of the future.

President Biden signed the bill into law on Aug. 16. President Biden, who spoke at the International Convention in May, is now following through on his promises to support organized labor and strengthen working families with this legislation.

“This historic legislation delivers funding to support lower carbon energy projects that will create new union jobs, lower energy costs and curb the climate crisis, and middle-class Americans will see no increase in taxes,” International President Lonnie R. Stephenson said. “Most importantly, it ties prevailing wage and apprenticeship requirements to tax credits for lower carbon energy generation like nuclear, solar and wind. It also puts stiff penalties for violators that choose the low road into law. We’ve really never seen anything like it when it comes to protecting union workers.”

“He made it clear that a pension is a promise, and as president, he would do whatever it takes to protect the retirement security of union workers across the nation,” Jacobs said at the South Lawn gathering of 5,000 people. “He also promised to be a jobs president by putting blue-collar America to work rebuilding our economy. Two years later, I think we can all agree: promises were made, and promises were kept.”

Among the highlights of the inflation reduction bill is a tax credit to make it easier for Americans to purchase electric cars. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, transportation is responsible for  27% of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. IBEW members are already building approximately 500,000 new electric vehicle charging stations from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law enacted last year.

Other incentives in the bill will boost traditional forms of energy generation that employ thousands of IBEW members, including nuclear and carbon capture on coal and gas power plants, along with a new tax credit for developing solar and wind energy components.

For instance, nuclear power plants – currently the nation’s largest producer of carbon-free energy and a leading employer of IBEW members – will be eligible for an estimated $30 billion in tax credits over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The law also leans into the construction of electrical transmission lines and the domestic production of transformers and solar panels. It also carries Davis-Bacon prevailing wage law and apprenticeship requirements on tax credits for renewable energy projects like solar and wind, industries that have remained stubbornly anti-union.

Other highlights include:

  • Historic investments in clean energy infrastructure, domestic energy production and domestic Buy America incentives
  • $7,500 rebates to purchase EVs for the IBEW-built charging network
  • Extends the life of current nuclear reactors
  • Grants for the construction of electrical transmission lines
  • Expands commercial development of carbon capture utilization and storage
  • Development of battery storage, hydrogen production technology
  • Accelerates domestic production of transformers and electrical grid components
  • Invests in disadvantaged coal-dependent communities who are too often left behind

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Boston Local 103 fifth-year apprentice Lovette Jacobs introduces President Biden on the South Lawn of the White House.