Gulf states awarded nearly $250M in grants from EPA to deliver residential solar

Published 4:27 pm Monday, April 22, 2024

Special to the American Press

The Gulf States Renewable Energy Industries Association  applauded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for awarding Gulf states nearly $250 million in grant funding.

$156,120,000 was awarded to Louisiana to fund Solar for All, a nationwide distributed (rooftop) solar energy program. The $156.1 million in new resources will be administered by the Louisiana Department of Energy and Natural Resources to provide direct economic benefits to households and employees statewide. The program will develop coordinated low-cost financing options to reach those otherwise left out of the new energy economy, including new equitable loan programs for community resilience hubs, resilient schools, and disadvantaged businesses. Louisiana’s status as an energy production state is bolstered by additional sources of energy like solar.

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In Mississippi, the U.S. EPA announced $93,670,000 for Hope Enterprise Corporation to advance a multi-pronged approach, including residential rooftop solar for lower income households, as well as targeting multifamily buildings. The residential program aims to develop a statewide rooftop solar leasing market in areas served by the state’s investor-owned utilities, which will significantly enhance the local solar installer ecosystem. The multifamily building approach will leverage additional financing and partnerships with local housing developers.

Collectively, these programs will deliver cost savings on electric bills for energy burdened households and unlock new markets for distributed solar in states that have never had a statewide low-income solar program before.

“This infusion of funds for solar will be transformative for our economy. The positive economic impacts are quantifiable because there’s a multiplier effect with the federal solar tax credits. If $156.1 million can close the funding gap for more than 20,000 rooftop systems, that’s a significant number of well-paying jobs. In Louisiana, the average salary for an installer is about $55,000 annually, and our state is leading in ramping up training and workforce development programs,” said Monika Gerhart, Executive Director of GSREIA.

About two-thirds of solar jobs are in installation and project development firms. Others are in wholesale trade and distribution, operations and maintenance. The City of New Orleans has a citywide Solar for All program, with a goal of installing 1,400 individual or 10 Megawatts (MW) of solar power by 2030.

In New Orleans, the first installs from the city’s Solar for All NOLA will be done today. Contact GSREIA for more information.

“Today we’re delivering on President Biden’s promise that no community is left behind by investing $7 billion in solar energy projects for over 900,000 households in low-income and disadvantaged communities,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “The selectees will advance solar energy initiatives across the country, creating hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, saving $8 billion in energy costs for families, delivering cleaner air, and combating climate change.”

These two Gulf state awardees are part of a group of 60 selectees that will receive $7 billion in grant awards through the Solar for All grant competition, which will deliver residential solar projects to over 900,000 households nationwide. Awarded via the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund grant competition, funding comes from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda through the Inflation Reduction Act, which created EPA’s $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund.

“Solar is the cheapest form of electricity—and one of the best ways to lower energy costs for American families,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for International Climate Policy. “Today’s announcement of EPA’s Solar for All awards will mean that low-income communities, and not just well-off communities, will feel the cost-saving benefits of solar thanks to this investment.”

“Residential solar electricity leads to reduced monthly utility bills, reduced levels of air pollution in neighborhoods, and ultimately healthier communities, but too often low-income and disadvantaged communities have been left out. Today’s announcement will invest billions to ensure that affordable housing across the U.S. can access solar and increase energy efficiency and climate resilience,” said U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Acting Secretary Adrianne Todman. “HUD is honored to have played a key role in today’s monumental announcement, which will provide meaningful household savings to households in low-income and disadvantaged communities, reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and energy costs, and deliver electricity during grid outages for low-income households.”

The $7 billion in grants awarded cover each of the 50 states, Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, territories, and Tribes.