The State Energy Office is seeking input from individuals and organizations on how to best implement Solar for All programs. To give feedback and share information about your organization, please fill out the survey here.
On June 28, 2023, EPA released the $7 billion Solar for All Notice of Funding Opportunity, part of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund which was authorized by congress in the Inflation Reduction Act. The overall goal of the Solar for All competition is to expand the number of low-income and disadvantaged communities that are primed for investment in residential and community solar. The competition will provide up to 56 awards for states and eligible territories ranging from $25 million to $400 million across the country (additional awards are available for tribal organizations and eligible nonprofits.)
The North Carolina State Energy Office, in partnership with the North Carolina Clean Energy Fund, a nonprofit green bank, intends to apply for the Solar for All grant competition. The focus of the program will be to catalyze investment in low-income and disadvantaged communities, as defined in the NOFO, and transform the solar market. While the program will be focused on the design and launch of a low-income and disadvantaged community solar program, it will also incorporate health and safety repairs, weatherization upgrades and storage when appropriate to maximize benefits to the household and leverage funding from other public and private sources.
North Carolina Solar for All Programs
To maximize the benefits to North Carolina low-income and disadvantaged communities, NCSEO plans to design programs that have the greatest impact with a focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, lessening energy burdens, and improving quality of life. Specifically, the program requires at least a 20 percent reduction in household energy bills. These programs will include:
1. Solar for Single Family Homes
2. Solar for Multi-Family Homes
3. Community Solar /Energy Storage projects in partnership with electric utilities
Programs will be developed in coordination with partners to ensure their design overcomes barriers faced by low-income and disadvantaged communities and provides equitable access to all households. Each program will be designed to maximize benefits to the household, while working with existing policies for net metering and barriers related to leasing restrictions and solar third-party sales restrictions. The work will take a comprehensive lens, seeking to build up workforce and small business capacity, and take advantage of existing networks and funding.
Program design considerations:
• Incentive stacking: pair with weatherization programs and energy efficiency rebates under Inflation Reduction Act
• Tiered incentives by income level
• Methods to monetize the Investment Tax Credits
• No down-payment and savings from day one including lease options
• Other affordable financing options
• Consumer protection
• Partnering to provide solar funding for programs like Solarize, Habitat, and Supportive Housing Network programs
Solar For All Application
Award Amount Requested: $400,000,000 (max amount)
Approx. # of Households served: At least 30,000
Lead Applicant: NC State Energy Office
Subrecipient: NC Clean Energy Fund
The programs will be designed to be inclusive of the partners that are critical to success. These partners include (but are not limited to):
• Academic Partners
• Affordable housing developers
• Community action agencies
• Community-based organizations, including tribal organizations
• Community lenders and credit unions
• Housing agencies
• Local governments and Council of Governments
• Nonprofit organizations
• Regulatory groups
• Solar Developers
• Workforce development
Notice Of Intent Deadline: July 31, 2023
Full Application Deadline: September 26, 2023
Announcement of Awards: Spring 2024
Expected Awards: Late Summer 2024
Solar for All grants can be used to provide financial assistance and technical assistance “to enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy or benefit from zero-emissions technologies.” EPA requires that applicants show that they are leveraging private capital, other public funding, and provide a direct financial benefit to participating households equal to 20 percent of household electricity bills at the utility level.
• Residential Rooftop Solar: Behind-the-meter solar photovoltaic (PV) power-producing facilities, including rooftop, pole-mounted, and ground-mounted PV systems, that support individual households in existing and new single-family homes, manufactured homes, and multifamily buildings. The definition of residential rooftop solar includes behind-the-meter solar facilities serving multifamily buildings classified as commercial buildings so long as the solar facility benefits individual households either directly or indirectly such as through tenant benefit agreements. Residential rooftop solar includes properties that are both rented and owned.
• Residential-Serving Community Solar: A solar PV power-producing facility or solar energy purchasing program from a power-producing facility, with up to 5 MW nameplate capacity, that delivers at least 50 percent of the power generated from the system to multiple residential customers within the same utility territory as the facility. There are a variety of community solar ownership models that can be considered, including community-owned solar, third-party-owned community solar, and utility-owned community solar.
• Associated Storage: Infrastructure to store solar-generated power for the purposes of maximizing residential rooftop and residential-serving community solar deployment, delivering demand response needs, aggregating assets into virtual power plants, and delivering residential power during grid outages. Financial assistance for associated storage must be deployed in conjunction with financial assistance for a solar PV system and the storage asset must be connected to the solar PV system.
• Enabling Upgrades: Investments in energy and building infrastructure that are necessary to deploy and/or maximize the benefits of a residential rooftop and residential-serving community solar project (i.e. “solar ready”). Enabling upgrades can include, but are not limited to, electrical system upgrades, structural building repairs and energy efficiency. Applicants may decide the exact types of enabling upgrades that are eligible for Solar for All financial assistance, yet all enabling upgrades should be energy and building infrastructure related and deployed in conjunction with financial assistance for an eligible solar PV system. Financial assistance for enabling upgrades may comprise up to 20% of the total financial assistance deployed during the lifetime of the program.
Grant Fund Activities
Grant funds can be used for financial assistance and technical assistance as well as program administration costs allowable under federal awards:
• Financial Assistance: Financial assistance is defined as subgrants, rebates, subsidies, other incentive payments, debt (including loans, partially forgivable loans, forgivable loans, soft loans, subordinate debt), and other financial products. Solar for All financial assistance is intended to enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from solar, storage, and enabling upgrades, while ensuring all projects deliver household savings, among other benefits. Most applicants should use at least 75% of program funds on financial assistance and should maximize solar deployment funded by this program. EPA will evaluate proposals more favorably if the applicant proposes to use 75% of program funds or more on financial assistance.
• Project-Deployment Technical Assistance: Technical assistance is defined as “project-deployment technical assistance” and is services and tools provided by grantees to communities and energy stakeholders to overcome non-financial barriers to solar deployment. Examples of these services and tools include workforce training, customer outreach and education, project deployment assistance such as siting, permitting, and interconnection support and coordination with utilities for the purposes of project deployment.
• Program Administration Activities: Expenditures for program administration activities could include those for program performance, financial and administrative reporting, and compliance, including but not limited to activities to support, monitor, oversee, and audit subrecipients, contractors, and program beneficiaries.