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Press Release


July 3, 2024


Kayla Gaines, Green New Deal Network,, 202-709-2762

NEW REPORT: Unlimited “Direct Pay” Clean Energy Funding Offers Chicago a Leg Up in Fulfilling its Climate Goals 

Washington D.C. — The Green New Deal Network, Green New Deal Illinois Coalition and Congressional Progressive Caucus Center released a new report, the Green New Deal Guide to Direct Pay linking President Biden’s historic investments to Mayor Johnson’s environmental justice agenda. The federal program, available to nonprofits and other tax-exempt organizations, can receive tax-free, uncapped cash payments for clean energy projects in the city of Chicago. Some IRA dollars have already been used to fund the Mayor’s green investments. 

“Direct Pay is a game changer that could supercharge Mayor Brandon Johnson’s nationally recognized, visionary Green New Deal agenda, and affords impacted communities, working class people, community organizations, and critical facilities the opportunity to access tremendous climate funding from the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Saul Levin, Campaigns and Political Director, Green New Deal Network. “As the third most populous city in the country, Chicago is racing towards a transformative Green New Deal program. Accessing resources to promote environmental justice and fund climate investments, such as direct pay, is one key way Mayor Johnson and Chicago are showing the whole country how this is done.” 

Under the Direct Pay provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, tax-exempt entities – such as municipalities, schools, and tribes – are eligible for up to a seventy percent reimbursement of financing for clean investments like solar panels, electric school and city buses, and geothermal heating systems for city buildings, and other clean energy expenses. 

In Chicago, where historic contract negotiations between the Chicago Teachers Union and Chicago Public Schools include demands for green investments in schools and housing, federal dollars will be welcome and essential. A student-led Green New Deal for Public Schools is similarly demanding that buildings to promote learning not jeopardize students’ futures through dangerous emissions and pollution.  

Direct Pay is a powerful tool that Chicago Public Schools (CPS) can and must leverage to implement renewable energy projects such as solar and geothermal energy for school buildings, the purchasing of electric school buses, and the installation of EV infrastructure to enable the transition to a 100% electric fleet,” said Avi Horwitz, Chapter Coordinator, Sunrise Chicago. “The savings recouped as a result of these investments will provide millions of dollars that the district can use to reverse decades of disinvestment and complete the vision of a Green New Deal for CPS: neighborhood schools that provide a high quality education to all students, regardless of their zip code, and serve as centers of climate resilience in their communities.”

The approach for a multi-prong use of this federal funding is exponential for burdened Chicagoan communities that face divestment across essential services and sectors in education, care, buildings, and transportation. Ultimately, it can be directed to install renewable energy at hospitals to reduce energy costs, strengthen the microgrid of a fire station or community center in the event of a weather emergency, expand city-owned public power, and fund a host of green community projects that will create good-paying jobs for the next decade.


About the Green New Deal Network

The Green New Deal Network is the hub of the GND, bringing together frontline communities, labor organizers, and climate activists from all across the country to drive massive public investments towards a Green New Deal at all scales of government. The Green New Deal Network is a national campaign with an expansive network of member organizations and a governing table of steering committee members: Climate Justice Alliance, Grassroots Global Justice Alliance, The Movement for Black Lives, People’s Action, Sunrise Movement, Working Families Party, and US Climate Action Network.