Obama wants to give your community $100,000 to build community solar

Obama solar energy focusSince President Obama took office, solar electricity generation has increased 30 fold and solar jobs are growing 12 times faster than the rest of the economy. Last year, his administration announced a set of actions to increase access to solar and create a more inclusive workforce, and this week, they are increasing those goals and backing them even more, specifically the pursuit of more solar for low- and moderate-income communities.

The new goal is a 10-fold increase and an expansion of the initial target President Obama set in his Climate Action Plan to install 100 MW of renewable energy on federally-assisted affordable housing by 2020. The Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative will help achieve the goal by promoting innovative financing mechanisms, bolstering technical assistance for states and communities, driving innovation, scaling up workforce training to make sure low- and moderate-income Americans can take advantage of the jobs that come with a transition to clean energy, convening stakeholders, and working with the private and philanthropic sectors.

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RELATED: A consumer’s guide to community solar via SEIA, Coalition for Community Solar Access 

Among the announced initiatives is developing a Community Solar Challenge. To help meet the Administration’s 1 GW goal, DOE is announcing the development of a Community Solar Challenge that will award teams in dozens of communities up to $100,000 to develop innovative models to increase solar deployment and cut communities’ energy bills, in particular in low-income communities.

Today, the DOE SunShot Initiative is releasing a request for information to gather feedback and information on the structure of the challenge. Shared solar systems of 2 megawatts (MW) or less with 40 percent low- and moderate- income subscribers, solar systems that benefit low-income families, and solar for community assets, e.g., hospitals, schools, food banks, and health clinics will be eligible. This challenge will reduce market barriers to solar deployment by spurring the deployment of dozens of projects across the nation, with an emphasis on new and emerging solar markets.