Office: Solar Energy Technologies Office
Funding Number: DE-FOA-0002513
Funding Amount: $8 million–$10 million

SolSmart Funding Program graphic

Description

On May 4, 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the SolSmart Program Management funding program, which will award $8 million–10 million to one entity that will manage and expand DOE’s SolSmart program. SolSmart supports and recognizes local governments that reduce soft costs and expand access to solar energy. 

SolSmart is a community designation and technical assistance program that has recognized over 400 U.S. communities. DOE is expanding the program to incorporate new solar-related technologies and respond to the evolving needs of local governments. The current award period is ending, and the chosen entity will manage the program for the next five years.

Expanding SolSmart will help SETO achieve its goals of increasing equitable access to solar energy in communities of color, low- and moderate-income communities, rural areas, and on tribal lands, and streamlining solar deployment processes to decarbonize the energy sector by 2035. Learn more about SETO’s goals and how to apply for a funding opportunity.

To facilitate the creation of a team, SETO will publish a list on EERE Exchange  of organizations interested in being project partners. The list will provide contact information, area of technical expertise, and a brief description of capabilities. Applicants are encouraged to view this list.

Areas of Focus

The SolSmart program manager will be responsible for providing technical assistance to communities, verifying that communities have met the requirements for designation, and evaluating and improving the program. SETO encourages applicants  to explain how they will update the SolSmart program in the areas listed below.

  • “Solar Plus” Technologies and Applications: Help local governments facilitate integrating technologies that can be paired with solar, such as energy storage, or allow for greater resiliency and local operational flexibility.
  • Ground-Mounted Solar: Help local governments improve zoning, permitting, and inspection for ground-mounted solar facilities and help them recognize opportunities for solar installations on municipally owned lands, contaminated lands (e.g., brownfields and abandoned mine sites), and landfills.
  • Regional Collaboration: Build on SolSmart’s efforts to encourage regional collaborations and establish standard or shared practices among jurisdictions in contiguous regions of the country.
  • Ongoing Engagement with Designees: Identify new areas of interest for previously designated communities; promote designees as SolSmart ambassadors or mentors to support program growth; or establish time frames to recertify designated communities.
  • Regular Evaluation and Improvement: Develop and execute a plan that requires communities to collect baseline data, test program design improvements, and establish success metrics.
  • Improving Program Cost-Effectiveness: Streamline certain program elements to focus on the highest-impact process improvements or identif other ways to improve program design to ensure that government funding has the greatest possible impact.
  • Leveraging Results from Other SETO Programs: Propose ways that communities across the country could benefit from the results of other SETO projects and programs through SolSmart. 

Webinar

SETO hosted a webinar on May 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET discussing the funding program and the areas of focus.

View the webinar recording. 

(The recording password is: PvSmW3MD. Use Google Chrome for the best results.)

Key Dates

FOA Issue Date: May 4, 2021
Informational Webinar: May 18, 2021, 1:00 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Letter of Intent: June 8, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Concept Papers: June 15, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Submission Deadline for Full Applications: August 17, 2021, 5:00 p.m. ET
Expected Date for EERE Selection Notifications: October 2021
Expected Timeframe for Award Negotiations: October–December 2021

Additional Information

Download the full funding opportunity on the EERE Exchange website.

Learn how to apply for a funding opportunity.

Read the DOE press release about this FOA.

For FOA-specific support, contact SolSmart.FOA@ee.doe.gov.

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