Powering Strong Communities
Distributed Energy Resources

EPA Announces $7 Billion Solar for All Grants

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on April 22 announced 60 selectees that will receive $7 billion in grant awards through the Solar for All grant competition to deliver residential solar projects across the U.S.

The grant competition is funded by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda through the Inflation Reduction Act, which created EPA’s $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

The 60 selectees under the $7 billion Solar for All program will provide funds to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and nonprofits across the country to develop solar programs that enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from distributed residential solar, EPA said.

The 60 selected applicants will serve households in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and territories, as well as increase access to solar for Tribes.

EPA has selected 49 state-level awards totaling approximately $5.5 billion, six awards to serve Tribes totaling over $500 million, and five multistate awards totaling approximately $1 billion.

Solar for All will deploy residential solar for households nationwide by not only providing grants and low-cost financing to overcome financial barriers to deployment but also by providing services to communities to overcome other barriers such as siting, permitting, and interconnection, EPA noted.

A complete list of the selected applicants can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Solar for All website.

The 60 selected applicants have committed to delivering on the three objectives of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: (1) reducing climate and air pollution; (2) delivering benefits to low-income and disadvantaged communities; and (3) mobilizing financing to spur additional deployment of affordable solar energy.

Solar for All selected applicants are expanding existing low-income solar programs and launching new programs.

In at least 25 states and territories nationwide, Solar for All is launching new programs where there has never been a substantial low-income solar program before. In these geographies, Solar for All selected applicants will open new markets for distributed solar by funding new programs that provide grants and low-cost financing for low-income, residential solar, EPA said.

To date, many of the 60 selected Solar for All applicants have supported low-income and underserved communities in installing innovative residential solar projects, the agency noted.

EPA anticipates that awards to the selected applicants will be finalized in the summer of 2024, and selected applicants will begin funding projects through existing programs and begin expansive community outreach programs to launch new programs in the fall and winter of this year. Selections are contingent on the resolution of all administrative disputes related to the competitions.

Austin Energy

Austin Energy on April 22 said that it is one of the partner organizations across Texas that will receive federal grant money.

“Austin Energy is expected to see tens of millions of dollars to aid direct deployment of clean solar energy to benefit thousands of historically disadvantaged communities and medically vulnerable residents,” the public power utility said.

Austin Energy said that these grant dollars will:

  • Expand access to rooftop and community solar, helping lower customer bills by more than 20% (average annual saving of nearly $2,000) in specific low-income communities.
  • Create good green jobs via a locally trained workforce.
  • Reduce carbon pollution by expanding green energy usage in the Austin area.
  • Foster community resilience through battery backup systems, especially benefiting medically vulnerable citizens.

Austin Energy will use the grant funds to establish 15-year power purchase agreements for solar energy and performance contracts for storage batteries.

The renewable energy will become part of the utility’s Community Solar Program portfolio and the batteries will be operated as virtual power plants.

Austin Energy will work with local solar installation contractors to build solar and storage projects in low-income residential and multi-family housing sites, with a special emphasis on households with medically vulnerable residents.

The homes will receive an upfront incentive for hosting a solar array and battery for 15 years. The qualifying customer will receive a guaranteed 20% bill discount through the low-income Community Solar Program subscription.

In the event of a grid outage, the single-family home will receive a whole home back-up. In the case of multifamily units, the battery may back-up power for common area loads, meeting rooms and warming/cooling centers.

After 15 years, the ownership of the solar array flips to the customer, “benefiting these families for decades to come,” Austin Energy said.