Renewable energy siting refers to a complex series of decision-making processes and actions that determine the location and design of new wind, solar, storage, or other renewable energy facilities.
State and local governments have critical roles in facilitating and approving large-scale renewable energy facilities but may not always have the resources, time, or expertise to plan proactively for future deployment of large-scale renewable energy facilities or to address siting barriers.
The Renewable Energy Siting through Technical Engagement and Planning (R-STEP) program expands the decision-making capacity and expertise of state and local governments around large-scale renewable energy planning, siting, and permitting.
By supporting State-Based Collaboratives (Collaboratives) to establish programs or initiatives that serve as a resource to their local areas, R-STEP helps communities better plan for and meaningfully engage in the development of renewable energy projects. This effort accelerates renewable energy deployment by supporting the establishment of more predictable and science-based siting processes for renewable energy developers and permitting authorities. R-STEP will grow as a go-to resource for convening, information sharing, and supporting the expansion of state-based renewable energy planning, siting, and permitting programs.
To achieve these objectives, R-STEP provides competitive awards to Collaboratives, provides technical assistance, creates opportunities for state-to-state engagement, and broadly disseminates information including best practices.
On September 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) opened submissions for a $10 million funding and technical assistance program that supports the creation of new, or the expansion of existing, state-based programs or initiatives that improve renewable energy siting processes at the state and local levels. DOE anticipates awarding approximately five to seven state-based collaboratives up to $2 million each. Collaboratives will also benefit from tailored technical assistance and peer-learning opportunities.
Examples of activities conducted with awarded funds could include:
- Engaging communities, local and Tribal governments, and other stakeholders to identify priorities and resource needs for renewable energy planning, siting, and permitting.
- Establishing a state-specific technical assistance hub that responds to questions and requests from local governments and/or tribes regarding siting and proactive planning for future deployment of large-scale renewable energy projects.
- Conducting trainings and workshops with local governments and tribes to improve technical understanding of renewable energy planning and/or siting.
- Hiring or subcontracting to expand technical capacity on siting processes, renewable energy technologies, community engagement planning and execution, and community plan development.
- Developing state-specific resources to support community planning for renewable energy and implementation of siting best practices.
Key considerations for applicants:
- DOE highly encourages state energy offices (or equivalent state agencies) and university extension offices to lead or participate in applications but recognizes that the organizations best suited to perform these activities will vary from state to state.
- DOE recommends that teams include organizations familiar with the needs of local communities in the state, organizations with experience providing educational or technical assistance services to local communities on technical subjects, and organizations with technical expertise on renewable energy siting topics (e.g., environmental impacts, tax policies, land use, zoning).
- DOE will not consider applications led by for-profit organizations, developers of renewable energy facilities, or national laboratories. These organizations may be partners in Collaboratives.
- Projects must focus on improving planning, siting, and permitting of large-scale renewable energy projects on private land. Projects that focus on energy efficiency programs, distributed energy sources, or transmission infrastructure are not of interest.
This opportunity closed on November 3, 2023. For more information on this program, visit the ENERGYWERX R-STEP page.
This funding program is managed by ENERGYWERX in partnership with the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office and Wind Energy Technologies Office in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), and is made possible through the innovative Partnership Intermediary Agreement set up by the DOE Office of Technology Transitions.
Siting Workshop Series
To support peer-to-peer learning and information sharing between states, EERE hosts a workshop series to help state energy offices and other stakeholders address challenges related to siting and permitting of large-scale facilities. See below for recordings of two previous workshops and look out for more workshops coming soon.