August 2023 Director's Message

Dr. Henry McKoy, Director of State and Community Energy Programs

We are coming to the time of year that marks the completion of a season. Labor Day is approaching which marks the end of summer. Labor Day is an occasion to celebrate the vital contributions of workers in this country. It is a time for cookouts and gatherings to celebrate with family and friends. It is also a time to celebrate coworkers. I want to begin this message by celebrating my colleagues and coworkers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) who work tirelessly on behalf of the American people every day, through every season. This is also a time of significance for two reasons: July marked my one-year anniversary leading the department's Office of State and Community Energy Programs, or SCEP. And August marks the one-year anniversary of the most transformative set of policies relating to the environmental, public health and economic benefits of our nation—the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law on Aug. 16, 2022.

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SCEP: One Year After the Inflation Reduction Act

Round logo for SCEP

One year ago, the passing of the Inflation Reduction Act was the wind beneath the wings of clean energy. The Act lifted the efforts to modernize the American energy system and allowed new technologies, innovations, and incentives to take flight.

More than $430 billion was invested to lower energy costs for American households and businesses, spark clean energy innovation, improve human health, improve our energy security, and mitigate climate change.

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Energy Future Grants Provides $27 Million in Financial and Technical Assistance to Support Local, State, and Tribal Government-Led Partnerships

Local, state, and tribal partnerships

In support of President Biden's Investing in America agenda, DOE is opening applications for the $27 million Energy Future Grants program. Energy Future Grants will encourage local, Tribal, and state governments to partner and build ideas that will benefit disadvantaged communities.

This program, led by DOE's Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP), anticipates making approximately 50 awards under this funding opportunity, with each awardee team potentially receiving approximately $500,000 in federal funding. Applicants are required to submit a Community Benefits Plan outlining how the project will achieve four goals: (1) support community and labor engagement, (2) invest in the American workforce, (3) promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, and (4) contribute to the President's goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities (the Justice40 Initiative).

Applications are due Sept. 30, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET. Visit the Energy Future Grants webpage to stay up to date on program announcements.

Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program Launches Community Energy Fellows

EECBG informational slide

DOE's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program is excited to launch the Community Energy Fellowship (formerly the Field Fellows Program). This is a unique opportunity for eligible EECBG Program local governments and Tribes to host a full-time, DOE-sponsored fellow to support their EECBG Program project for 18 months.

By hosting a Fellow, local and Tribal governments will bolster their EECBG Program Projects, gain new perspectives, and accelerate the national transition to resilient and affordable clean energy. Fellows will build experience in public sector clean energy deployment at the community level. They may work on projects including energy efficiency, electric vehicle technology, renewable energy, and more! Fellowships are coordinated through Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

There are two application rounds:

  • Eligible governments must apply to host a fellow in the first round through Oct. 4, 2023, or by March 5, 2024, for the second round.
  • Fellows must apply by Oct. 8, 2023, for the first round, and March 16, 2024, for the second round.

Additional questions about Community Energy Fellows? Submit them to

It’s not too late to submit a Pre-Award Information Sheet for the EECBG Program!

Eligible entities can still submit a Pre-Award Information Sheet for the EECBG Program. This non-binding document is required for all entities pursuing a formula allocation and serves as an important first step in the application process.

You can view the Pre-Award Information Sheet, application instructions, and allocation amounts on the EECBG Program Formula Grant Application Hub. Completed Pre-Award Information Sheets and additional questions can be sent to

DOE Launches Program to Expand State and Local Capacity for Renewable Energy Planning, Siting, and Permitting

A solar panel in front of a city skyline

DOE launched a new initiative to support states and local communities as they plan for and evaluate proposed development of large renewable energy facilities. The Renewable Energy Siting through Technical Engagement and Planning (R-STEP) program will support the creation of new, or the expansion of existing, state-based programs or initiatives that improve renewable energy planning and siting processes for local communities.

Through R-STEP, DOE anticipates awarding approximately five to seven state-based collaboratives between $1 to $2 million each to expand state and local capacity on large-scale renewable energy siting and planning. Collaboratives will also benefit from tailored technical assistance and peer-to-peer learning opportunities through the program, and R-STEP will serve as a platform for collaboratives to share learnings and best practices with other stakeholders.

Read more about program requirements and funds.

DOE Launches Round 2 of the American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize

Round 2 of the Community Power Accelerator Prize

Round 2 of the American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize: Accessing Capital to Deploy Equitable Community Solar launched in July 2023. The $10 million prize from DOE is designed to fast-track the efforts of new, emerging, and expanding solar developers and co-developers to learn, participate, and grow their operations to support multiple successful community solar projects. The goal of this prize is to expand a robust ecosystem of community solar project developers that incorporate meaningful benefits into projects across the United States.

The prize consists of three phases—Ready!, Set!, and Grow!—with up to 25 winners selected in each round. Individually, each competitor can win up to $400,000 over the course of the prize:

  • Ready! Contest winners each receive $50,000
  • Set! Contest winners can earn up to $200,000 in cash prizes
  • Grow! Contest winners can earn up to $150,000 in cash prizes

Learn more about the Community Power Accelerator Prize and download the rules for the competition.

Lessons from the Centennial State: Addressing Colorado's Energy Burden

Pathways to Energy Affordability Report Cover

With support from the DOE's State Energy Program (SEP), the Colorado Energy Office (CEO) conducted a study on energy cost burdens across the state. The study identified key recommendations to inform future policies. 

Throughout the United States, low-income households often spend a larger portion of their income on energy bills compared to other income groups due to a variety of reasons. Household incomes vary more widely than household energy consumption, and more affluent income brackets have easier access to more efficient technologies. Although Colorado has more affordable electricity and gas rates than other states, energy cost burdens still impact many communities in the state. 

In 2021, CEO with support from SEP, conducted a study, Pathways to Energy Affordability in Colorado, to assess the energy cost burdens—the amount of household income spent on electricity and fuel use—across the state and inform strategies to achieve energy affordability. Alleviating access to energy and saving residents money were key drivers of the study as authors from Physicians, Scientists, and Engineers for Healthy Energy and the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research set out to determine how to accurately measure the energy burden in Colorado.  

Read more about addressing Colorado's Energy Burden.

EPA's Investing in America: Climate Action Funding Resource Guide Now Available

Investing in America Climate Action Funding Fair

EPA hosted the Investing in America: Climate Action Funding Fair online the week of Aug. 7, 2023. Representatives from various federal agencies, academia, and nonprofit organizations presented their insights on key funding programs and shared ideas on opportunities for leveraging complementary incentives. 

The fair was a virtual series of events designed to assist states, local governments, Tribes, and territories to effectively identify, navigate, and prepare to leverage the many federal funding opportunities available as they develop climate action plans as required under EPA's Climate Pollution Reduction Grant program. Attendees gained a better understanding of the many funding opportunities available to reduce greenhouse gas emissions as well as how they may interact to achieve greater outcomes.  

To complement the Investing in America: Climate Action Funding Fair, the Investing in America: Climate Action Funding Resource Guide is now available! This guide identifies a variety of tracking tools as well as provides an extensive list of federal funding programs that reduce greenhouse gases. 

Continue Learning with the PCNRC Training Certificate Series

Man working on equipment in safety gear

School is back in session and three new accredited and interactive modules of the PCNRC Training Certificate Series are now available on-demand!

The Training Certificate Series provides foundational instruction on energy savings performance contracts (ESPCs) to support users in developing their ESPC expertise. The latest trainings walk through the ESPC project development and construction process, and bring users access to seven of eight planned chapters.

  • Training 5: Facilitating the Investment Grade Audit (IGA), details the importance of performance, operational, and financial risk considerations during project formation.
  • Training 6: Reviewing the Investment Grade Audit and Project Proposal, steers users through the proposal document review process to mitigate risk, resolve disputes, and achieve a strong foundation for project implementation.
  • Training 7: Construction, Performance Verification, and Project Acceptance, outlines the roles and responsibilities of all parties during these project steps.

Check out the one-page overview of the training series to learn about key takeaways, topics, and who should attend.

DOE Releases a New Report on the One-Year Anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act

Investing in American Energy cover

DOE’s latest report, Investing in American Energy: Significant Impacts of the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law on the U.S. Energy Economy and Emissions Reductions, describes the key results from new analysis on the impacts of IRA and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) in OP-NEMS, a customized version of the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). By the end of this decade, President Biden's Investing in America agenda is positioned to: 

  • Save American families up to $38 billion on electricity bills
  • Reduce U.S. net greenhouse gas emissions 40% below 2005 levels by 2030
  • Strengthen U.S. energy security by reducing net crude oil imports by nearly 60%
  • Reduce industrial and manufacturing emissions up to 40% below 2005 levels
  • Double the share of American electricity generated by clean sources to 80%
  • Accelerate the electrification of the American vehicle fleet, with share of zero-emission light-duty vehicle sales reaching up to 65%

While there are many pathways to reach climate targets, three of the key pillars to achieve net-zero are to increase energy efficiency, decarbonize electricity, and electrify end uses and switch to other clean fuels all while ensuring benefits and costs of the transition are equitably distributed. This new analysis highlights how IRA and BIL leverage these pathways to make significant progress. Read the full report.

New DOE Issue Brief Provides Insights and Analysis from C-PACE Program Administrators and Capital Providers

Solar panels on a building's roof at night

Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing supports energy savings, economic development opportunities, and greater resiliency in the built environment. Some states with active C-PACE programs have ramped up activity significantly while others have not achieved and sustained a high volume of transactions. This brief details C-PACE project origination trends, barriers, and market practices for state and local government C-PACE program sponsors looking to grow their C-PACE project pipeline.

This brief, Commercial PACE Project Origination: Leverage Points for Growing the Project Pipeline, provides new information on project origination trends and strategies for how state and local governments and third-party partners can increase the volume of projects leveraging C-PACE financing. This issue brief is the third in a series of DOE and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)-produced briefs intended to inform state and local governments about specific barriers to adopting or implementing C-PACE programs. The issue briefs are informed by input from participants in DOE’s C-PACE Working Group, which includes state and local governments, third-party program administrators, capital providers, and many other organizations.

For readers unfamiliar with C-PACE and the role of state and local governments, consider starting with a foundational C-PACE resource prepared by DOE and LBNL, Lessons in Commercial PACE Leadership: The Path from Legislation to Launch.

DOE Announces 2023 Housing Innovation Award Winners

2022 HIA Winners

Since 2013, the DOE Housing Innovation Awards have honored the very best in innovation on the path to zero energy ready homes by recognizing forward-thinking builders delivering American homebuyers with a better homeowner experience. 

The 2023 Housing Innovation Awards winners have been selected and can be found on the Building Technologies Office website. Grand Winners from each award category will be selected and honored at the 2023 Housing Innovation Awards ceremony will be held at the EEBA High Performance Home Summit, October 10-12, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Take a virtual tour of past Housing Innovation Award winners on the DOE Tour of Zero! Read more about the award winners.

DOE Recognizes 14 Organizations for Excellence in Commercial Lighting

Outside of an office building

DOE's 2023 Integrated Lighting Campaign (ILC) recognized 11 organizations for exemplary commitment to energy efficiency and environmental responsibility in their buildings, and three organizations for exhibiting exemplary support and advocacy for this work. Partners were recognized on Aug. 5, 2023, at the Illuminating Engineering Society annual conference for projects that showcase how lighting system upgrades can lead to significant energy savings and create more comfortable, productive, and environmentally responsible spaces.

Now in its third year, the ILC is part of DOE's Better Buildings Initiative and designed to demonstrate that integrated lighting systems enable deeper energy savings in buildings and create an enhanced user and occupant experience. In 2023, the ILC added new categories that highlight the potential of novel lighting technologies to contribute to energy equity, sustainability, and indoor air quality in commercial and public buildings.

Read more about the organizations that were recognized.

DOE Announces $28 Million for 10 Projects to Decarbonize the Nation’s Water Treatment Sector

Wastewater treatment facility

The DOE's Industrial Efficiency and Decarbonization Office (IEDO) announced $28 million for 10 projects that will drive innovation to decarbonize the entire life cycle of Water Resource Recovery Facilities (WRRFs). These facilities, which treat wastewater from public water systems, are among the country’s largest industrial electricity users with full lifecycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions on par with direct emissions from the entire food and beverage industry— one of the largest GHG-emitting industries in the United States.

The selected projects will accelerate research, development, and demonstration of technologies to lower GHG emissions from WRRFs and move the U.S. closer to a net-zero economy by 2050.

More information on the ten selected projects is available on the IEDO website.

DOE Awards $46 Million from the Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) Funding to 29 Projects Across 15 States

Skyscrapers seen from the ground

In support of President Biden's Investing in America agenda, DOE announced $46 million for 29 projects across 15 states to develop advanced building technologies and retrofit practices that enable healthier households and communities and reduce energy waste. The Buildings Energy Efficiency Frontiers and Innovation Technologies (BENEFIT) funding opportunity will help advance cost-effective solutions to successfully electrify buildings across the nation while also improving their energy efficiency and demand flexibility.

DOE works to reduce the energy intensity and related carbon emissions of homes and commercial buildings by supporting cost-effective technologies and practices, and these selected projects will drive innovations that help drive breakthroughs and continued progress. More than half of the 29 projects selected will pursue advancements to improve space conditioning and water heating, which accounts for just over half of all energy use in American homes. The remaining projects will help advance other components impacting homes and commercial buildings.  

More information and a full list of selected projects are available on the Buildings Technologies Office website. For more information on DOE’s activities that support building technology innovation, visit the Emerging Technologies program website.

Calling the Next Sustainable Building Professionals—Register for the Solar Decathlon 2024 Design Challenge

People stand with an award in front of a Solar Decathlon background

Are you a student or professor interested in transforming buildings to tackle the climate crisis? The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon® is seeking collegiate student participants from diverse majors to join the next round of the zero energy building design competition. Students from collegiate institutions in the United States and around the world are encouraged to form interdisciplinary teams and register!

The Design Challenge is an annual collegiate competition challenging interdisciplinary teams to create high-performance, low-carbon building designs that address real-world issues such as climate resilience, affordability, and environmental justice. Design a sustainable retrofit of an existing building or a new construction building in one of the following Divisions: single-family housing; attached housing; multifamily building; and education building.

The 2024 Design Challenge Rules provide more information and detail the 10 contests that make up the Decathlon. Register your team for the 2024 Design Challenge today! Registration closes on Oct. 18, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET.  Join us for the 2024 Design Challenge Kickoff Webinar on Sept. 5, 2023, at 1 p.m. ET to learn more