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U.S. EPA Launches $7 Billion Program To Bring Solar Energy to Low-Income Households

U.S. EPA Launches $7 Billion Program To Bring Solar Energy to Low-Income Households

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EPA seeking applications through the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund to bring solar to millions of homes in low-income and disadvantaged communities, funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a $7 billion grant competition through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to increase access to affordable, resilient, and clean solar energy for millions of low-income households. Residential distributed solar energy will lower energy costs for families, create good-quality jobs in communities that have been left behind, advance environmental justice, and tackle the climate crisis. 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 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 Administrator Michael S. Regan announced the grant competition for communities with U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT), who championed the program, in Waterbury, Vermont while touring a residential solar project.

“For too long, overburdened communities on the front lines of the climate crisis have been left behind and locked out of clean energy investments and climate solutions,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “Thanks to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, this historic boost in solar investments will advance millions of residential solar projects nationwide, protect people and the planet, deliver environmental justice, save families money, and create good-paying jobs. All communities deserve to participate in America’s growing clean energy economy and under this competition, we will bring more communities along, working together to build a healthier and cleaner future for all.”

“At a time when people are struggling to make ends meet, all while dealing with the existential threat of climate change, we must make residential rooftop solar a reality for low-income and working families that need it most,” said U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (VT). “This $7 billion residential solar program that I introduced and the EPA is administering is a major step in the right direction. I look forward to working with the EPA on this program to make it more affordable for low-income and working-class families to install solar on their homes and save money on their electricity bills, as well as help create millions of good jobs in Vermont and across the country.”

“EPA’s Solar for All competition is building a future where clean, cheap, reliable energy is for everyone,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy Innovation and Implementation. “I commend Administrator Regan and Senator Sanders for their leadership in making sure all Americans, regardless of zip code, have access to low-cost solar energy and its benefits for health, jobs, and justice.”

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. 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 cuts home energy bills and provides families with resilient and secure power, and Solar for All will help low-income and disadvantaged communities experience these meaningful benefits, such as guaranteeing a minimum 20% total electricity bill savings for households benefiting from the program. 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, clean energy jobs.

See related article: EPA Finalizes New Renewable Fuel Standards to Strengthen U.S. Energy Security, Support U.S. Rural Economy, and Expand Production of Low-Carbon Fuels

“Solar for All will accelerate the deployment of residential solar in communities that for too long have lacked access to the cost-saving benefits of clean energy generation at home,” said Senior Advisor and Acting Director of the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Jahi Wise. “The Solar for All program strengthens low-income and disadvantaged community-focused solar programs across the country, bringing long-needed cost-savings and pollution reduction to American communities.”

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 middle out and the bottom up – 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 will play a critical role in developing quality clean-economy jobs by funding high-road workforce development programs across the nation. These workforce development programs will invest in training workers from low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy residential distributed solar, creating opportunities in high-quality, long-term careers in the clean energy industry

“Last Congress, Senate Democrats, working with President Biden, transformed America’s approach to climate change and the clean energy economy with the Inflation Reduction Act,” said U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (NY). “In less than a year since it was signed into law, Americans have already felt its effects – in lower energy costs and in new, high-paying jobs. The Solar for All grant program is just the latest example of how this legislation will transform the lives of those most affected by the disastrous effects of climate change and promote environmental justice.”

“As we work to build a clean energy future, we must do so in a way that benefits all Americans—no matter their zip code or income,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper (DE), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “When developing the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, we intended for $7 billion of the program’s investments to target residential and community solar projects in communities with the greatest need. I’m pleased that the Biden-Harris administration’s Solar for All grant program is going to help deploy clean energy to millions of households, lowering energy costs and creating good-paying jobs across our nation.”

“We will never achieve our clean energy future without taking steps to support our low-income, frontline communities and ensure they have the investments and resources they need to thrive,” said Congressman Paul Tonko (NY-20). “As the former Chair of the Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee, I was proud to work with the Biden Administration to develop and enact historic programs for the EPA in the Inflation Reduction Act, including the Solar for All grant program. I thank President Biden and Administrator Regan for their commitment to environmental justice and look forward to continuing to bolster programs that foster our clean energy transition, tackle the climate crisis, create good-paying jobs, and cut costs for all American families.”

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