Earth Day celebrated with $7 billion solar funding announcement


This Earth Day, President Joe Biden announced 60 recipients of funding from the Solar for All program. Solar for All is a funding opportunity announced by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in June 2023 that has a goal of bringing solar energy to low-income households.

The recipients were chosen based on their proposals to develop programs designed to serve communities facing barriers to distributed solar deployment, with 100% of funding supporting low-income and disadvantaged communities in all 50 states the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and territories.

“Today’s announcement from the EPA Solar for All grant competition can unlock multiples of private capital to complement the $7 billion in federal awards that will serve millions of low-income Americans,” said Jeff Cramer, CEO of the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “Community solar is a critical tool in the broader toolbox of distributed solar options for American households and can offer the vast majority of low-income households unable to put solar on their roofs the opportunity to save money on their electric bills while reducing GHG emissions.”

Tribal communities will receive more than $500 million, or over 7% of the funding. One of those recipients is the Northern Plains Tribal coalition, a group of 14 tribes that will receive $135.6 million deploy solar energy projects to low-income residents who have historically been dependent on costly fossil fuels. Indigenized Energy will manage the solar projects, ensuring that they are Native led.

“EPA’s Solar for All announcement is a monumental achievement in advancing a more equitable and just energy future, but it’s still just the beginning,” said Andie Wyatt, managing policy director and counsel for Grid Alternatives, a lead applicant on a multi-state and a Tribal program selected to receive awards. “As awardees roll out their programs throughout the country, the real value of the Solar for All investment will be realized through transformative benefits for households and communities.”

The projects funded by the program are expected to provide over 4 GW of solar to 900,000 households. This will more than double the amount of solar serving low-income and disadvantaged communities as of the end of 2023. The funding will serve residential and residential-serving community solar projects that will cumulatively reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of over 30 million metric tons of CO2.

The DOE estimates that the average low-income household benefiting from this program will save around $400 a year on their electric bills; collectively that’s over $350 million in annual household savings from all 60 selected applicants, totaling over $8 billion in cumulative savings for over a standard solar project 25-year asset life.

In addition, the funding will bring resilience to communities and especially to the 78% of selected applicants that plan combine energy storage with solar.

One of the prerequisites of the funding was for applicants to develop workforce development plans that includes the commitment to create good-paying, high-quality jobs and to work with a number of local, regional, and national labor unions. The DOE estimates that as a result, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be created across the country over the next five years.

“Harnessing the power of local solar energy is crucial as we transition away from fossil fuels,” said Xavier Boatright, Sierra Club’s Deputy Legislative Director. “There is no time to waste, and we are grateful for the broad coalition that has spearheaded efforts to advance this necessary funding. These grants will help communities advance the future-focused solutions our earth desperately needs.”

EPA will host a public webinar for the Solar for All program, on Monday, April 29, 2024, 4 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET. Register here.

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