EPA and Congresswoman Valerie Foushee highlight $7 billion Solar for All grant competition at a North Carolina press event

Jul 21, 2023

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. (July 21, 2023) –Today, officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined Congresswoman Valerie Foushee at a press event in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina to discuss the $7 billion Solar for All grant competition currently open through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to support millions of low-income households across the country in accessing affordable, resilient and clean solar energy, and advance environmental justice.

“The climate crisis is one of the most pressing challenges in our lifetime, and solar power is key to attaining a clean energy future,” said Congresswoman Valerie Foushee (NC-04). “Through the Solar for All Grant program, the Biden Administration and the EPA are working to ensure that every community has equitable access to affordable and resilient residential solar power. This is a huge step in environmental equity, and I encourage all who are eligible to apply for this groundbreaking federal funding opportunity.”

“As a research organization, we see the many connections between energy choices, air pollution, climate change, human health, and the environment. Clean energy choices reduce air pollution and the harmful impacts associated with air pollution – such as harm to our health and damage to crops – while also helping address climate change impacts such as heat and increased wildfires. That’s why this program is so important,” said Chris Frey, Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Research and Development.

“There are almost 30 gigawatts of solar already installed across the Southeast – enough to power over 3.5 million homes and providing almost 35,000 jobs – but there’s still a lot of opportunity to install more,” said EPA Region 4’s Chief of Staff, John Nicholson. “This unprecedented Solar for All program is another example of how President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is delivering for families across the country. It will transform the status quo, putting billions of dollars of solar panels on the homes of low-income families and closing the equity gap in access to solar energy.”

The Solar for All competition, which was created by the Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), 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 nonprofits to create and expand low-income solar programs that provide financing and market-building technical assistance, such as workforce development, to enable residential solar deployment in underserved communities. 

The new program will fund projects to expand existing low-income solar programs and develop and implement new Solar for All programs nationwide. 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. 

Residential solar generation cuts home energy bills and provides families with resilient and secure power. By investing in residential solar, the program will reduce the pollution produced from powering our homes to improve air quality and public health outcomes, all while creating good-paying jobs in the clean energy economy.

The Solar for All program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. The program will also help meet the President’s goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.

This investment was made possible by President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, which is growing the American economy from the bottom up and middle-out – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $470 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good paying jobs and building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.

Solar for All Eligibility and Application Information

The deadline to apply to this 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 this 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:

  1. State and Territory Programs: Awards for programs that serve a specific state or territory geography
  2. American Indian and Alaska Native Programs: Awards for programs that serve American Indian and Alaska Native communities
  3. 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.

EPA has published the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for this competitive grant competition on grants.gov.

To compete in this competition, all applicants are required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply to this competition. 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.

Tools and resources for prospective grantees, including helpful templates, can be found on EPA’s GGRF webpage.

Additional Background:

The President’s Inflation Reduction Act authorized the EPA to create and implement the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, a historic $27 billion investment to combat the climate crisis by mobilizing financing and private capital for greenhouse gas- and air pollution-reducing projects in communities across the country. In addition to the $7 billion Solar for All competition, EPA will also launch a $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF) grant competition to expand deployment of clean technologies at a national scale and a $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) grant competition to build local clean financing capacity through community lenders. EPA plans to release the NOFOs for these two competitions in the coming weeks.

Together, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund’s National Clean Investment Fund, the Clean Communities Investment Accelerator, and Solar for All competitions will spur the deployment of residential solar energy to lower energy bills for millions of Americans, provide resilient and clean power to communities, and catalyze transformation in markets serving low-income and disadvantaged communities. Each of these competitions advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative while expanding good-paying job opportunities in domestic industries.

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