The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on June 28 launched a $7 billion grant competition to increase access to solar energy for low-income households and disadvantaged communities.
The Solar for All competition, which was created by the Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, “will expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities primed for residential solar investment by awarding up to 60 grants to states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and eligible nonprofits to create and expand low-income solar programs that provide financing and technical assistance, such as workforce development, to enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from residential solar,” EPA said.
The new grant competition will provide funds to expand existing low-income solar programs as well as develop and implement new Solar for All programs nationwide.
EPA said that Solar for All programs ensure low-income households have equitable access to residential rooftop and residential community solar power, “often by providing financial support and incentives to communities that were previously locked out of investments. In addition, these programs guarantee low-income households receive the benefits of distributed solar including household savings, community ownership, energy resiliency, and other benefits.”
The deadline to apply to the competitive grant competition is September 26, 2023.
Eligible applicants to Solar for All include states, territories, Tribal governments, municipalities, and eligible nonprofit recipients. Coalitions, led by an eligible lead applicant, are also eligible to apply to the competition.
Additional detail on eligibility can be found in Section III of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
EPA intends to make up to 60 awards under this competition with three award options for applicants.
These award options will include:
- State and Territory Programs: Awards for programs that serve a specific state or territory geography;
- American Indian and Alaska Native Programs: Awards for programs that serve American Indian and Alaska Native communities;
- Multi-state Programs: Awards for programs that serve similar communities that face similar barriers to residential distributed solar deployment in multiple states.
EPA anticipates issuing awards of varying amounts, calibrated to the number of households the applicant intends the program to serve.
Applicants for all three award options can apply for a small-sized program ($25 - $100 million), a medium-sized program ($100 - $250 million), or a large-sized program ($250 - $400 million).
Applicants to Solar for All can submit separate applications to one or multiple of the three options. The final quantity of awards will be determined by the number and quality of the applications as well as the optimal combination of awards across the three award options to achieve maximum geographic coverage and benefits of the Solar for All competition.
All applicants are required to submit a Notice of Intent to apply.
The deadline for the NOI differs by applicant type and are:
- July 31, 2023 for states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico;
- August 14, 2023 for territories (specifically, The Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands), municipalities, and eligible nonprofit recipients; or
- August 28, 2023 for Tribal governments and Intertribal Consortia.
EPA’s Solar for All competition will host an informational webinar to provide information on the Solar for All grant competition and the application process on July 12, 2023, 1:00pm – 3:00pm ET (Register Here). The webinar will be recorded and posted on EPA’s GGRF webpage.
Tools and resources for prospective grantees, including webinar links and templates, can be found on EPA’s GGRF webpage.