Concentration of CO2 in the Atmosphere

The Solar for All Program Benefits in Maine, NH, NY and ME

Solar should be on every home. (AdobeStock_602039977)

George Harvey

When the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) was signed into law by President Joe Biden in August 2022, it addressed several actions, including reforming taxes and pushing drug prices down. It also authorized $783 billion on energy and climate change, the largest investment, by far, on these issues in the history of the country.

Exactly how the funds were to be spent was not built into the law. That has been worked on since, with some input by the states, federal agencies, and others. Without going too deeply into the details, the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund was created with $27 billion, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) managed to put $7 billion of that money into the Solar for All program.

The purpose of the Solar for All program is to spread benefits as broadly as possible among people who are most in need of them. That includes such things as subsidies for solar installations for people who have low incomes or are otherwise in need. It also is aimed at employing people who need good jobs for installing equipment supporting solar systems.

Vermont’s Senator Bernie Sanders put a lot of effort into Solar for All, and he joined President Biden to announce it on April 22, 2024. At the announcement, Senator Sanders said, “The United States can and must lead the world in transforming our energy systems away from fossil fuels. The Solar for All program – that I successfully championed – will not only combat the existential threat of climate change by making solar energy available to working class families, it will also substantially lower the electric bills of Americans and create thousands of good-paying jobs. This is a win for the environment, a win for consumers, and a win for the economy.”

The Solar for All program was available for all states to benefit, and 35 of them did so, along with the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Some states made more than one application. Some benefits were awarded to tribes, and others were given to multi-state programs. There was a total of sixty recipients of the awards.

The benefits to the states for participating depended on what was in their applications, among other things. Here, we will look at the benefits for Maine, New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont.

Maine

The Maine Governor’s Energy Office was chosen to receive $62,120,000 through the Solar for All grant competition to develop long-lasting solar programs that enable low-income and disadvantaged communities to deploy and benefit from distributed residential solar. The funds will be distributed through multiple channels for single-family and multi-family structures, and will also support community solar arrays. Funding will also cover battery electric storage, to improve resilience and to maximize value. The Maine system addresses opening up employment opportunities, giving technical assistance, and support for siting and permitting.

EPA New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash said, “Household utility bill savings, clean energy jobs, greenhouse gas reductions – that is what today’s announcement will mean to thousands of communities across New England and the country.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire is to receive $43,510,000 from the Solar for All competitive grant program. New Hampshire’s application was a partnership between the New Hampshire Department of Energy as lead applicant, the New Hampshire Community Loan Fund, and New Hampshire Housing.

New Hampshire will use the funding in complementary ways to help low-income households and communities deploy and benefit from residential solar projects. The state’s Department of Energy will scale up its existing community solar program. The New Hampshire Community Loan Fund will help resident-owned communities install community solar systems. The New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority will use funding to install residential-serving community solar on workforce housing projects and properties owned by the public housing authority.

New Hampshire is excited to have been selected for this funding that will help Granite Staters,” said New Hampshire Department of Energy Commissioner Jared Chicoine. “Too often, the financial benefits of solar generation are limited to the wealthy. New Hampshire will use this funding to expand opportunities for low-income households and communities to take advantage of clean energy.”

Solar in rural areas and in communities should be affordable for everyone.(AdobeStock_697460248)

New York

Governor Kathy Hochul announced that New York is to receive funding by the U.S. EPA through the Solar for All grant competition for solar projects benefitting low-income New Yorkers. The funds will incidentally help with New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection goal to obtain 70% of the state’s electricity from renewable sources such as solar by 2030.

New York State has positioned itself as a leader in community solar, ensuring more residents than ever before have access to clean, affordable solar energy,” Governor Hochul said. “We thank President Biden, Administrator Regan, and the New York Congressional Delegation for their support and are proud to partner with the Environmental Protection Agency to advance this historic investment in community solar and build a clean and healthy future for New Yorkers.”

Vermont

The U.S. EPA awarded Vermont $62,450,000 of the funding from Solar for All. The Vermont Public Service Department regards the award as an important step towards ensuring that all Vermonters benefit from a renewable energy.

The Public Service Department did a great job creating a proposal that will help thousands of low-income Vermonters access the benefits of solar power and energy storage” said REV Executive Director Peter Sterling.

Senator Sanders’ announcement also said, “The Vermont Climate Corps – a workforce training and service initiative aimed at preparing young Americans for jobs in clean energy and climate resilience – will mobilize young Americans who are ready to take on the existential threat of climate change. As one of the first states participating in the American Climate Corps, Vermont will continue to be at the forefront of the fight to take on climate change, creating good paying jobs for young people who are working to save the planet.”

The stories of these four states are each necessarily very short. We ask readers to remember that such stories apply to a total of 60 applications, totaling $7 billion. Together, they are a big set of steps toward dealing with the climate.

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