Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill Funding Will Support Solar Energy Careers in Underserved Areas; A new digital platform will make reliable solar energy more affordable
WASHINGTON, DC — The Biden-Harris administration, through the US Department of Energy (DOE), today launched new initiatives to connect families to more reliable clean energy, lower electric bills and create good-paying jobs in the domestic solar industry. The DOE, in collaboration with the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced five states and Washington, DC will support pilot community solar subscription platforms to connect families to solar energy and reduce electric bills through the Low- Program income housing assistance (LIHEAP) and other low-income assistance programs. DOE also announced $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Act to jumpstart solar energy careers in underserved communities. Today’s announcements support President Biden’s goal of achieving a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 while creating good-paying jobs across the country.
“Every American community, especially those facing a disproportionately higher energy burden, deserves the economic and health benefits that come with increased access to affordable clean energy,” he said. US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “That’s why DOE is working across the federal government to unlock community solar power that will rapidly lower electric bills for households that need it most and create good-paying jobs in every pocket of America.”
Connecting communities to solar energy and reducing electricity bills
HHS’s LIHEAP program keeps families safe by helping eligible households with their heating and cooling energy costs, bill assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherization and energy-related home repairs. Going solar can help households across the country save money on their electric bills, but many Americans have been unable to access these benefits. Community solar, which allows multiple users to benefit from a shared solar power system, provides a solution for individuals who cannot get rooftop solar panels. DOE’s community solar goal is to power 5 million homes and provide 20% savings on subscribers’ electric bills, compared to the 10% average today.
The community solar subscription platform is designed to connect community solar projects with verified savings for households participating in government assistance programs such as LIHEAP. The initial pilot will support the states of Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Washington, DC. These states will provide feedback, coordination and data to test the platform’s operability, security and performance. DOE has prioritized working with states that have existing programs to support low-income community solar development so that, if successful, participants will see significant savings on their electric bills, including:
- 20% in Illinois, New Jersey, New York and New Mexico
- 50% in Washington, DC and Colorado
DOE estimates that this could lead to savings on your electricity bill of up to:
- $240 million in Colorado
- $300 million in Illinois
- $175 million in New Jersey
- $30 million in New Mexico
- 400 million dollars in New York
- $40 million in Washington, DC
Colorado Governor Jared Polis said, “I am proud to join the White House, the Department of Energy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Department of Health and Human Services in supporting the community solar subscription platform. This innovative and exciting project helps reduce electricity bills, save people money through expanded and simplified access to affordable community solar subscriptions. This initiative will save millions of Coloradans on their electricity bills each year, reducing energy burdens across the state. That’s money better spent on groceries, rent, or taking the family out for fun. We are so thrilled to support this effort to save people money and accelerate Colorado’s path to 100% renewable energy.”
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker said, “Community solar programs are essential to the expansion of renewable energy in Illinois and across the nation. That’s why I’m proud to continue leading our state’s work to grow the clean energy economy by adopting the National Solar Partnership Community’s LIHEAP solar subscription platform. By supporting low-income communities that want to participate in this program, we can increase energy efficiency over the long term and provide impactful, cost-saving access to solar energy for our state’s households that need it most. At Illinois, we know an equity-focused approach that puts consumers and the climate first and delivers results that will give our children a safer world to live in.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said, “Through our participation in the Community Solar Subscription Platform project, New Jersey is helping families across the state reduce their energy costs. As the Department of Energy’s adviser on the platform’s design and function, New Jersey will have the opportunity to ensure that the platform eliminates barriers to critical clean energy resources and benefits residents most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. Collaborations like this are key to helping us provide broad opportunities for every member of the community to reap the benefits of a clean energy future.”
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said, “New Mexico is excited to participate in this pilot program, which builds on my administration’s efforts to make solar energy accessible to all. Our LIHEAP eligible customers will see savings of 30% — it’s a game changer for New Mexico families.”
New York Governor Kathy Hochul said, “New York is the leading community solar market in the US and has set an example of how states across the country can cost-effectively bring clean, affordable solar power to millions of families facing the burden of rising energy costs. We are proud to work with President Biden, his administration and numerous partners through this collaboration to ensure our most underserved customers have access to this innovative new resource.”
Washington, DC, Mayor Muriel Bowser said: “When we work together as a nation to achieve our climate goals, we have the opportunity to move together towards a better, greener and more sustainable future. We know that implementing community solar energy is critical to creating a future that promotes healthy, renewable and sustainable living, and we’re excited to join that effort. By working with property owners, especially affordable multi-family homes, and local businesses, we can ensure our future is clean and resilient. We are proud of the work we are doing here in DC and look forward to joining these efforts across the country.”
DOE’s National Solar Partnership, HHS, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the National Association of Energy Assistance Directors and the National Association of State Energy Officials are collaborating on the Community Solar Subscription Platform.
DOE also issued a Request for Information to obtain feedback on the platform structure from community organizations, community solar subscription managers and developers, state and local governments, researchers, LIHEAP implementing organizations, and others. Responses are due by August 31st at 5:00 PM ET.
Creating a strong solar workforce
Although the solar industry is already more diverse than the national average, the Biden-Harris administration has invested $10 million through the bipartisan Infrastructure Act to ensure that the future solar workforce is equitable, inclusive and benefits the people in and around the communities that live in and around it. projects. According to estimates in the DOE A study of the solar future, the industry will need to create hundreds of thousands of quality jobs to achieve decarbonisation targets. These jobs should be available to workers from all backgrounds, provide competitive wages and benefits, and offer opportunities for union membership.
DOE’s Advancing Equity through Workforce Partnerships program will fund projects supporting new workforce programs that bring together employers, training providers and unions to support pathways to the solar industry to hire, train and retain an inclusive workforce. These programs will be demand-driven, worker-centered, and sector-specific, and will leverage established programs and workforce resources, be sustainable and replicable, and prioritize energy justice. By assessing the regional labor market and the current and future needs of employers, multi-stakeholder project teams can help ensure optimal alignment between different training programs and actual industry needs.
Powered by the Community Solar Prize Competition
To encourage the development of community solar projects and programs, DOE is also launching the Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, a new awards program that will recognize best practices in community solar that increase equitable access and ensure benefits go to subscribers and their communities . Up to five finalists can win the Sunny Award and $10,000 in prizes per team.
Register for DOE’s informational webinar on the Solar Subscription Platform, August 2 at 2:00 PM ET.
Register for DOE’s informational webinar on funding opportunities to advance equity through workforce partnerships on August 4 at 2:00 PM ET.
Register for DOE’s informational webinar on the Sunny Awards on August 18 at 3:00 PM ET.
Read more about the Office of Solar Energy Technologies and the National Community Solar Partnership at DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
Courtesy of Energy.gov
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