WASHINGTON — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced last week the implementation framework for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), created by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
The framework outlines three distinct, but complementary, programs designed to expand clean energy, reduce emissions, and reduce energy costs: The $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund competition; the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator competition; and the $7 billion Solar for All competition.
The newly-named Solar for All competition will offer up to 60 grants to help catalyze scalable and long-term private capital investments to expand deployment of residential and community solar projects in low-income and disadvantaged communities across the country—enabling millions of families to access affordable, resilient, and clean solar energy.
It is an idea with roots in the Roadmap to Expand Solar Access for All developed by a coalition of environmental and social justice organizations and distributed solar companies aiming to build a more equitable electricity grid and economy that works for all Americans.
The coalition applauds the EPA’s foresight displayed in this framework by prioritizing awards to states, Tribes, municipalities, and eligible non-profits that: (1) maximize the total amount of solar that can be deployed to low-income households; (2) ensure equitable access by all low-income households; (3) maximize total financial savings and greenhouse gas reductions; (4) incorporate energy resilience; and (5) encourage award recipients to develop long-term scalable and sustainable programs that may be able to continue after funding is exhausted.
As the implementation process continues, the coalition looks forward to working with the EPA and other stakeholders to ensure that the final Notices of Funding Opportunity maximize the impact of the Solar for All program.
Once deployed, these grants will lower barriers to solar access, create good paying jobs, invest in underserved and overburdened communities, and put the country closer to achieving our climate goals.
“With this framework for the aptly named Solar for All competition, we’re on track to unlock billions of dollars of private capital to create and expand equitable local solar capacity across the country,” said Jeff Cramer, CEO of the Coalition for Community Solar Access. “The EPA has thoughtfully designed this innovative competition to realize the full potential of community solar to provide meaningful electric bill savings and certainty and reduce climate emissions to the majority of American households without access to local clean energy.”
“The EPA’s framework for the Solar for All competition are thoughtful and well-calibrated guidelines that can set states up to lower barriers for low-income communities accessing all the benefits of clean energy by prioritizing rooftop solar, community solar, and local battery storage. This sets a course for an effective path to lower greenhouse gas emissions in low-income communities and help the families who need it the most to lower their energy costs,” said Robin Dutta, Campaign Director for Local Solar for All, a national entity unaffiliated to the EPA program.
“Environmental and economic justice require that we not only reduce pollution, but that we center the communities most historically impacted by our fossil fueled economy in the solutions,” said Olivia Nedd, Senior Policy Director Access & Equity at Vote Solar. “The EPA’s framework this week means the Solar for All competition can use community and rooftop solar to support economic and energy resilience in Black, Indigenous, and communities of color.”
“The sun shines everywhere, but not everyone can benefit, yet,” said Anya Schoolman, Solar United Neighbors Executive Director. “This exciting announcement from the EPA will help to close the gap. Going solar helps families save money by taking control of where their energy comes from. This is why we need to build an energy system with rooftop solar at the cornerstone.”
“The Solar for All competition has the potential to be a tremendous catalyst for energy equity and justice around the country,” said Andie Wyatt, Policy Director and Legal Counsel for GRID Alternatives and co-chair of the Solar Access for All Coalition. “We are pleased to see EPA diligently moving forward with this hard-won provision of the Inflation Reduction Act, and we look forward to working with the agency, states, territories, Tribes, local governments, and other community stakeholders to help ensure the competition meaningfully promotes an equitable energy transition that includes everyone.”
“The Solar for All competition and other programs that will create billions of dollars worth of new opportunities for investment in low-income and marginalized communities is encouraging and exciting news. For Latino/es, who pay more for utilities than white households and are 80% more likely to have service disconnected by a utility provider is a crucial step toward a sustainable energy transition”, said Andrea Marpillero-Colomina, Sustainable Communities Program Director at GreenLatinos. “But we must persist in ensuring that these investments are effectively deployed through community based initiatives to build an equitable clean energy future for all.”
“We commend the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for releasing a thoughtful framework for the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund program, which is authorized under the Inflation Reduction Act,” said Ben Norris, senior director of regulatory affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “EPA’s new programs will help to advance environmental justice priorities and expand solar access to low-income and tribal communities that have been boxed out of the clean energy revolution. These new programs will empower even more Americans to experience the cost-saving and wealth-building effects of clean energy, helping us get one step closer to an equitable clean energy economy we can all celebrate.”
“We applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s actions to swiftly and equitably implement the investments from the clean energy plan passed last year,” said Art Terrazas, Climate Change and Clean Energy Advocate for the League of Conservation Voters. “Accelerating access to community and rooftop solar for communities of color and low wealth communities is critical to reversing decades of disproportionate exposures to fossil fuel pollution, fulfilling President Biden’s Justice40 commitments, and advancing a clean energy economy for all.”