GRID earns DOE grant, but will the government pay?


Not that long ago, receiving a grant from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Sunshot Initiative was a moment to pop the champagne corks and get excited about spreading the solar revolution. Now, it can induce nail-biting and nervous sideways glances.
Still, it’s exciting news for the industry that GRID Alternatives, America’s largest non-profit solar installer, received news that seven of its projects or partners will participate in the DOE’s SunShot Initiative’s Solar in Your Community Challenge, a $5 million prize competition that mirrors the organization’s purpose perfectly.
In addition, three of the projects also received financial and technical assistance awards totaling $140,000. To complete the projects, GRID will work in several states with different partners to find projects that will help low-income communities through community, multifamily and rooftop solar and workforce development.
“There are so many ways that people can benefit from solar power,” said Erica Mackie, CEO and co-founder of GRID Alternatives. “We’re excited to work with the Department of Energy to innovate new models for serving communities that wouldn’t otherwise have access.”
Or so Mackie hopes.
Reports surfaced in recent months that the DOE under Secretary Rick Perry has slowed down the disbursement of Sunshot funds, even to groups and organizations that have already been awarded the money. This new policy has some researchers and companies worried that they may never see the funds they are counting on to move their research forward.
The Trump Administration’s actions, including choosing proven Climate Change deniers and coal-industry lobbyists to key positions in the DOE and elsewhere, suggests it is hostile to renewable energy development.
Assuming they get the money, however, GRID Alternatives and its partners will compete for $1 million in final prizes, which will be awarded by judges based on each project or program’s innovation, impact, and replicability.

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