Federal Resources for Community Solar

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These resources from several federal offices can assist those who are working to develop community solar projects. 

Fannie Mae – HomeStyle Energy Program

This new mortgage option gives borrowers the ability to complete clean energy upgrades for up to 15% the appraised value of their homes. Borrowers are able to finance energy-efficient upgrades when purchasing or refinancing a home, eliminating the need for a subordinate lien, home equity line of credit, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loan, or unsecured loan.

Environmental Protection Agency

Green Power Partnership

The Green Power Partnership expands U.S. renewable energy markets through the voluntary use of green power. Approved partners have access to technical assistance, webinars, videos, and trainings that can help with the deployment of community solar.

RE-Powering America’s Land

This initiative encourages renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community’s vision for the site. The program helps stakeholders to identify and screen sites for renewable energy potential and provides other useful resources for communities, developers, industry, state and local governments, or anyone interested in reusing these sites for renewable energy development.

Department of Energy

Better Buildings Challenge: Clean Energy Low Income Accelerator

This program aims to lower energy bills in low-income communities through the expanded installation of energy efficiency and distributed renewables. Partners are able to leverage the experience of others who are concurrently developing new partnerships, investigating successful models, and developing local plans that could meet state or local climate and energy goals for low income communities.

Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)

This program provides grants to states, territories, and some Indian tribes to improve the energy efficiency of the homes of low-income families. WAP contributes to making residential structures “solar-ready” by reducing the home’s energy load and thus maximizing the percentage of the total energy burden that can be offset by subsequent renewable energy generation. WAP can also pay up to $3,545 per residence for cost-effective renewable energy.

Department of Treasury

Low-Income Housing Tax Credits

This is the federal government’s primary program for encouraging the investment of private equity in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households. The tax credit is calculated as a percentage of costs incurred in developing the affordable housing property, and is claimed annually over a 10-year period. Project developers can jointly structure transactions to qualify for solar energy tax credits (energy credits) and low-income housing tax credits.

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program

This program promotes the development of viable urban communities by providing decent housing, a suitable living environment, and expanded economic opportunities, principally for persons of low and moderate incomes. It provides grantees with the flexibility to plan programs that best meet their unique needs within the program’s broad mission, and these funds can be applied toward solar projects that meet the criteria for the program.

Section 108 Loan Guarantee Program

This program provides communities with a source of financing for economic development, housing rehabilitation, public facilities, and other physical development projects, including renewable energy additions. It offers state and local governments the ability to transform a small portion of their CDBG funds into federally guaranteed loans large enough to pursue physical and economic revitalization projects capable of revitalizing entire neighborhoods. 

Renew 300: Advancing Renewable Energy in Affordable Housing-Tools and Resources

This program encourages organizations to make public commitments toward the federal renewable energy target of 300 megawatts of onsite or community-scale renewable energy capacity. Organizations may establish their own goals for how much renewable energy technology to install and can access a growing number of tools and resources.

Incentives to Reduce Utility Costs for Public Housing Authorities

Under certain circumstances, HUD incentives allow public housing capital funds and extra energy savings from energy conservation measures to be allocated by the housing authority toward needed repairs and other eligible expenses. The rate reduction incentive allows public housing authorities to retain either 50% or 100% of the savings from a renewable-energy related reduced utility rate.

STEM, Energy, Economic Development (SEED): Coalitions for Community Growth

The U.S. Departments of Energy and Housing and Urban Development have partnered with the U.S. Department of Education to build human capital and continue significant investments in infrastructure upgrades and energy retrofits to conserve resources. This program is an innovative place-based initiative to create economic opportunity and energy-literate communities, including energy literacy, STEM education, and job-driven skills training.

Department of Agriculture

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

REAP provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Applicants may qualify for a grant of up to 25% of eligible project costs, a guaranteed loan up to 75% of eligible project costs, or a combination of grant and guaranteed loan up to 75% of eligible project costs.

Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP)

This program helps rural families and small businesses achieve cost savings by providing loans to qualified consumers to implement durable, cost-effective energy efficiency measures, including on- or off-grid renewable energy.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP)

EECLP provides loans to finance energy efficiency and conservation projects for commercial, industrial, and residential consumers. These funds can also be used for distributed generation for on- or off-grid renewable energy systems. Eligible utilities, including existing Rural Utilities Service borrowers, can borrow money tied to Treasury rates of interest and re-lend the money to develop new and diverse energy service products within their service territories.

Department of Health and Human Services

Low Income Housing Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

This program assists families with energy costs and provides federally funded assistance in managing costs associated with: home energy bills, energy crises, and weatherization and energy-related minor home repairs. LIHEAP state administrators have the authority to invest in solar in their state using LIHEAP funds. Currently, 48 states use LIHEAP funds for weatherization, which includes solar.