Biden dedicates $10 million to jump-start solar energy careers in underserved communities

The Biden-Harris Administration and the DOE today launched new initiatives to connect families to more reliable clean energy, lower electricity bills, and high-paying jobs in the household solar industry. DOE, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), five states and Washington, D.C., has announced that it will support the Community Solar Subscription Platform pilot to connect families to solar power and reduce electric bills through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and other low-income assistance programs. DOE also announced $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to jump-start solar careers in underserved communities.

“Every American community, especially those with a disproportionately higher energy burden, deserves the economic and health benefits that come with greater access to affordable clean energy,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “This is why DOE is working across the federal government to open up solar to the community that will quickly cut electricity bills for households that need it most and create high-paying jobs in every pocket of America.”

HHS’s LIHEAP program keeps families safe by helping eligible households with their heating and cooling energy costs, bill payment assistance, energy crisis assistance, weatherproofing and energy-related home repairs. Switching to solar energy can help households across the country save money on their electric bills, but many Americans have not been able to access these benefits. Community solar offers a solution for people who cannot get solar panels on the roof. Is doing community sun target is to power 5 million homes and save 20% on a subscriber’s utility bill, an increase of 10% on average today.

The Community Solar Subscription Platform is designed to connect community solar projects with verified cost savings with households participating in government-run aid programs such as LIHEAP. The first pilot will be supported by 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 operation, safety and performance of the platform. DOE has prioritized working with states that have existing programs to support solar development in low-income communities so that participants, if successful, will achieve significant savings on electricity 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 electricity bills of up to:

  • $240 million in Colorado
  • $300 million in Illinois
  • $175 million in New Jersey
  • $30 million in New Mexico
  • $400 million in New York
  • $40 million in Washington, DC

DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership, HHS, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, National Energy Assistance Directors Association, and the National Association of State Energy Officials are collaborating on the Community Solar Subscription Platform.

DOE also has a Request for information to get feedback on the platform structure from community organizations, solar subscription managers and developers, state and local governments, researchers, LIHEAP implementation organizations, and others. Responses are expected no later than August 31.

While the solar industry is already more diverse than national averages, the Biden-Harris Administration has invested $10 million through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to ensure future solar workforces are equitable, inclusive and benefit people in underserved communities living in and around the projects. According to estimates in DOEs Research into solar future, the industry will need to create hundreds of thousands of good quality jobs to achieve the decarbonisation targets. These jobs should be accessible to workers of all backgrounds, offer competitive wages and benefits, and provide opportunities for union membership.

DOs Promoting equality through staff partnerships program will fund projects that support new workforce programs that bring together employers, training providers and unions to support pathways to the solar industry to recruit, train and retain an inclusive workforce. These programs are demand-driven, employee-oriented and sector-oriented, leveraging existing workforce programs and resources, being sustainable and reproducible, and prioritizing energy equity. 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 the real needs of the industry.

To encourage the development of equitable solar projects and programs for the community, DOE is also launching the Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar, a new awards program that will recognize best community solar practices that increase equitable access and ensure benefits go to subscribers and their communities. Up to five finalists can win a Sunny Award and prizes of $10,000 per team.

News item from DOE

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