New rules could hold back $1 trillion in infrastructure spending that extends to housing, broadband, and electric vehicle charging projects.
By Madeleine Ngo October 26, 2022
Nearly two years ago, the Tri-Valley Transit agency started to construct a new bus facility in Bradford, Vermont. The agency’s fleet, which residents across eight towns used to get to work, school, and medical appointments each day, was outgrowing the building it had been renting for 16 years. New buses were bigger than the vehicles they used to have, and they didn’t have the equipment to efficiently wash and maintain them.
Soon after breaking ground, officials ran into complications. The agency had planned to install a solar-powered heat pump system, which would have been cleaner for the environment and less expensive to maintain, said Jim Moulton, the agency’s executive director. But officials couldn’t find an American manufacturer to build a large enough system. Although two Italian companies could have fulfilled the order, the project was receiving federal funds, meaning that it was subject to “Buy America” rules that required manufactured products to be made domestically.
Moulton said the agency applied for a waiver from the federal government but was denied, so officials redesigned the $3.4 million project and purchased a wood pellet boiler system manufactured in the United States. The agency moved into the facility in August 2021, but the debacle delayed the project for nearly three months and added on about $100,000 in extra costs.
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