DOE Celebrates Black History Month by Honoring Pioneers who Have Shaped our Energy Past & Releases Second Annual Equity Action Plan

Black History Month graphic

This Black History Month, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) honor those who have shaped our energy past, present, and future for the better. We are beyond thankful for their groundbreaking contributions and advancements that have been foundational in the work we continue to support at the Department of Energy. Here are some of their stories.

In continued celebration, DOE has unveiled its 2023 Equity Action Plan (EAP). This plan outlines the progress made by the DOE thus far and the strategies it will implement to further advance equity for all Americans. Read more about the Second Annual Equity Action Plan and how DOE is Celebrating Black History Month.

News

SCEP Shares Clean Energy Opportunities at 2024 Tribal Clean Energy Summit

Tribal summit group

DOE’s 2024 Tribal Clean Energy Summit was held February 27 – 28 on the homelands of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in Temecula, California. More than 700 Tribal leaders, DOE offices, state governments and private industry came together to exchange ideas, build networks, explore cross-cutting and cost-effective solutions to national energy interests, and support tribal sovereignty.

DOE’s Office of State and Community Energy Program’s (SCEP’s) Acting Director Keishaa Austin announced innovative partnership opportunities for Tribal communities including the launch of the Communities Sparking Investment in Transformative Energy (C-SITE) funded by the Local Government Energy Program. Austin also announced the newly released fourth round of funding by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program. Karen Zelmar – SCEP’s Inflation Reduction Act Home Rebates Manager – shared information about rebate program design during a panel presentation. SCEP program staff from C-SITE, EECBG, and Home Energy Rebates tabled and provided live office hours on-site.

May 31, 2024 - SCEP Announces $18 Million for Transformative Clean Energy Projects Led by Tribal and Local Governments

Communities Sparking Investment in Transformative Energy (C-SITE) graphic

SCEP is pleased to share the launch of a new annual program with applications now open for an $18 million funding opportunity announcement. Communities Sparking Investment in Transformative Energy (C-SITE), supported through SCEP’s Local Government Energy Program (LGEP), provides direct funding and technical assistance to Tribes, disadvantaged communities, energy communities, and small- to medium-sized jurisdictions to implement municipally- or Tribal-led high-impact clean energy projects.  

Through C-SITE DOE aims to:

  • Fund high-impact clean energy projects that deliver local benefits, spark additional investments, and advance community-identified energy priorities; and 
  • Build local capacity and partnerships within communities through in-depth technical assistance and optional on-site Community Energy Fellows. 

DOE will prioritize projects with clear demonstrated support from local community partners and relevant decision-makers, as well as projects proposing significant benefits to workers and local residents, and the ability to spur local economic development or community revitalization, utilize existing community assets or transform liabilities into assets, and spark additional investments. 

Full applications are due to the Infrastructure Exchange by May 31, 2024, 5:00 p.m. ET. DOE will host webinars to provide more information about the C-SITE FOA on March 7 at 2:00 p.m. ET and on March 21 at 3:00 p.m. ET. For more information on the application process, visit the Local Government Energy Program website or email LGEP@hq.doe.gov.  
 

April 10, 2024 – SCEP Issues Request for Coordination on the Energy Future Grants Program Technical Assistance Cohorts

SCEP partnerships graphic

The DOE’s Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP) is proposing to execute a Partnership Intermediary Agreement (PIA) with an organization(s) to support the administration and implementation of the Energy Future Grants (EFG) Program Technical Assistance Cohorts.

The EFG Program provides competitive grants and technical assistance to local, state, and tribal government partners to support their clean energy goals. DOE is establishing the cohorts and initial subject-matter expert pairings. 

The organization selected through the PIA will extend upon that outreach to bring together the best minds of industry, academia, and government entities to collaborate and support EFG grantees. They will serve as the facilitator of the technical assistance cohorts, monitor the progress of the grantees and address any barriers. The organization will connect grantees with the most appropriate subject-matter experts for the necessary modeling and analysis for their program. The cohort activities will consist of monthly group-learning virtual meetings and regular trainings; and will provide a venue for peer-learning, sharing of best practices, and Q&A.

To learn more about this opportunity and to apply, please visit our website.

DOE Continues Investing in Local Clean Energy With $17.28 Million Granted To 30 Communities

Aerial view of city's downtown

SCEP announced its fourth round of award recipients through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program. The EECBG Program will distribute $17.28 million to four states, 23 local governments, 2 Tribes, and the territory of Guam to improve energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions, and lower overall energy use. 

This month, grantees will use EECBG Program funds to solarize schools, develop electric transportation incentive programs, provide funding for energy retrofits on low-income homes, make essential energy efficiency upgrades on municipal buildings and facilities, install renewable energy systems at schools, and more. 

Read more to learn about what grantees in this tranche are doing with their funds and view the full list of EECBG Program-funded projects to date on our website. The deadline for Tribes to apply for EECBG Program formula funds has been extended to May 31, 2025. The deadline for local governments – including Puerto Rican municipios – is April 30, 2024

Formula awards are announced on a monthly basis. For more information on eligibility, how to apply, and available technical assistance, see the EECBG Program website.

DOE’s State Energy Program Welcomes New Deputy Director and Releases 2024 Program Guidance

State Energy Program's new Deputy Director, Ward Lenz

DOE’s State Energy Program (SEP) is pleased to welcome new Deputy Director, Ward Lenz. With nearly 30 years of experience in clean energy development, Ward brings a range of background and expertise to DOE. Ward started his energy career at the Iowa State Energy Office and also served as Energy Division (State Energy Office) Director for North Carolina during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act years; where he ran an 80-person division to implement the State Energy Program and Weatherization Assistance Program. In addition to his time in state energy offices, Ward has also worked with several energy non-profits, most recently as Executive Director of the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, a membership association focused on policy advocacy in legislative and regulatory arenas. 

He joins SEP just in time for the release of the release of SEP’s 2024 program guidance, which includes the Formula Grant Application Instructions, Administrative and Legal Requirements Document (ALRD), and the 2024 Formula Allocations. Learn more about how SEP provides funding and technical assistance to states, territories, and the District of Columbia to enhance energy security, advance state-led energy initiatives, and increase energy affordability.

SCEP’s Renew America’s Schools Program to Host a Series of Webinars to Advance Clean Energy Initiatives in K-12 Schools

Child stepping onto school bus

All about Energy: Tools and Resources for Schools 
On Tuesday, March 12, from 3:00 – 4:00 p.m. ET, the Renew America’s Schools Program is hosting a webinar to highlight how K-12 schools can use freely-available resources to pursue energy improvement projects. From identifying energy savings opportunities to estimating costs and more, these tools and resources can help school leaders develop strategic plans to lower energy costs and create safer, healthier learning environments. DOE will also share information on recent updates to the tools. Register here!

Loan Strategies for School Energy Improvements: Part 1 Featuring the DOE Loan Programs 
SCEP’s Renew America’s Schools Program and DOE’s Loan Programs Office (LPO) are pleased to offer a joint webinar focused on schools on March 20 from 1:00 – 2:00 p.m. ET. This webinar will provide information about loan strategies applicable to school energy improvements. Through the  State Energy Financing Institution (SEFI)-Supported  category  of the  Title 17 Clean Energy Financing Program, LPO can augment state-administered clean energy programs, providing additional financial support to projects that align federal energy priorities with those of U.S. states. 

SEFI-Supported  projects do not have a technology innovation requirement, so the authority expands eligibility for LPO financing to include certain projects that incorporate commercial technologies, or aggregate technology-diverse projects, and that receive meaningful financial support or credit enhancements from a SEFI. This means that, through the Clean Energy Financing Program, LPO can provide loan guarantees for clean energy deployment projects, including renewables and efficiency, as well as clean transportation. State and local leaders, school champions and partners, and organizations interested in learning more about LPO are invited to tune in for this info session. Register here!

New Air Pollutant Data Can Inform State and Local Clean Energy Planning

SLOPE platform tool

Frontline communities are more often exposed to air pollutants and experience more pollution-related health impacts. With new data integrated into the State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform, jurisdictions can explore air pollutant emissions in various scenarios through 2050 and better understand how different clean energy transition approaches can reduce air pollution in their communities. 

The new data includes information about nitrogen oxides (NOx) and sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions under varying future levels of electrification and electricity decarbonization. Resulting from the combustion of fossil fuels, these pollutants can damage ecosystems, cause haze, and contribute to respiratory illnesses like asthma and bronchitis. Using this data to prioritize actions and investments can help jurisdictions center equity as a priority in their energy transition. The updated model includes the Inflation Reduction Act and projects increased electrification and lower power sector emissions.

SLOPE is a collaboration between DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory designed to support data-driven state and local energy and planning. Visit the SLOPE Scenario Planner to incorporate these air pollutant metrics in your energy planning.

Register Now! 2024 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is Less than 2 Months Away

Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit

The 2024 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is less than 2 months away and registered attendees can now sign up for building tours and workshops taking place Tuesday, April 2! If you have not registered for Summit yet, register today and look for details in your confirmation email. A limited number of travel stipends ($750 or $1,000 based on location) may be available upon request for state and local governments and K-12 school districts.

Building Tours
Four D.C. area properties are opening their doors to highlight energy efficiency, decarbonization, and other measures that make them stand out. Tour space is limited and on a first-come, first-serve basis. View the full tour list here and get details about each site. Below are some of our 2024 sites:

AlexRenew's Environmental Center, Library of Congress, and Cannon & O'Neill House Office Buildings
AlexRenew's Environmental Center, Library of Congress, and Cannon & O'Neill House Office Buildings

Workshops
Workshops will take a deeper dive into some of the key challenges and technologies impacting our partners. Topics include building performance standards, federal resources, new tools, and many more. Click here for more information about all of our workshops. You can only sign up for building tours and workshops after registering for the Summit, so don't delay!  

About The Summit
The 2024 Better Buildings, Better Plants Summit is being held April 2-4 at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. This annual event for Better Buildings, Better Plants partners and other key stakeholders provides the opportunity for professionals to explore emerging technologies and share innovative strategies in energy efficiency, decarbonization, water, and waste reduction. Learn more.

March 5, 2024 - DOE Launches Third Round of Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship Program

Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship graphic

DOE launched the third round of the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship, a unique workforce development program that matches recent graduates and energy professionals to key energy organizations that support efforts that advance clean energy solutions. Through this program, host institutions receive support to help them accelerate the transition to clean electricity and better take advantage of federal grid resilience and modernization funding opportunities, while also increasing access to clean-energy career opportunities across the United States.

Applications are now open for eligible Host Institutions including state public utility commissions, grid operators, and cooperative and municipal utilities, as well as Tribal utilities, Inter-Tribal Councils or other Tribal organizations, and essential energy organizations in Puerto Rico. New this year, State Energy Offices are now considered priority Hosts Institutions.

Host Institution applications are due on March 5, 2024. Applications should include a project scope and describe their institution’s needs. Applications for Fellows will open in March 2024.

March 11, 2024 – Submit a Request for Proposals for the Second Round of the Transmission Facilitation Program

Building a Better Grid logo

A Request for Proposals (RFP) has been announced by DOE for the second round of the $2.5 billion Transmission Facilitation Program (TFP) that will help build out new interregional transmission lines across the country. Through the RFP, DOE anticipates deploying up to $1.2 billion in Federal support to accelerate transmission buildout through capacity contracts, an innovative approach that increases the confidence of investors and potential customers while reducing risk for projects.

The TFP is a revolving fund program that will provide Federal support to overcome the financial hurdles in the development of large-scale new transmission lines and upgrading existing transmission as well as the connection of microgrids in select States and U.S. territories. Under the TFP, DOE is authorized to borrow up to $2.5 billion through three financing tools: capacity contracts with eligible projects; loans from DOE; and DOE participation in public-private partnerships within a national interest electric transmission corridor (NIETC).

The submission deadline for the first part of the RFP application process is March 11, 2024.

March 15, 2024 - DOE Announces $63 Million to Accelerate Electric Heat Pump Manufacturing Across America as Part of Investing in America Agenda

Heat pump

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced the availability of $63 million to accelerate the growth of domestic manufacturing of residential heat pumps, heat pump water heaters, and other heat pump systems and components. This funding opportunity builds on a successful first round of $169 million in funding to manufacturers of heat pumps and components in November 2023.

Increased use of electric heat pumps, for heating and cooling (space conditioning) and water heating, will help lower energy costs for more American families and businesses and create healthier indoor spaces.

Read the full funding opportunity here. Concept papers, which are required for all applicants, are due on March 15, 2024, at 5 p.m. ET. Full applications are due on April 29, 2024, at 5 p.m. ET.

Fremont, California Leads Solar Energy Advancement as First Local Government to Earn SolSmart’s Coveted Platinum Designation

Fremont, CA government team

Located in California’s East Bay area, Fremont has long been a leader in solar-friendly policies. The city’s work has already made a big impact, seeing solar deployment double in the last four years. Now, through DOE’s national recognition and technical assistance program, SolSmart, Fremont is the first-ever local government to earn SolSmart’s new Platinum designation, which acknowledges local governments for prioritizing solar energy in their communities.
In order to achieve SolSmart Platinum designation, the city of Fremont:

As other communities look to expand solar energy within their jurisdictions, the city of Fremont offers a bright example to follow. Any city, town, county, or regional organization is eligible to join the SolSmart program and work toward Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum designation. Learn more about achieving SolSmart designation.

Selections Announced for the Arctic Energy Ambassadors Program that Empowers Sustainable Energy Leadership in Alaska

Map of Alaska

Developed in alignment with DOE’s Arctic Strategy, the Arctic Energy Ambassadors program will cultivate regional, place-based, and collaborative energy leadership. Ambassadors will benefit through shared resources, knowledge-sharing partnerships, and access to technical assistance, to help drive sustainable projects across Alaska.

The passionate and community-focused Ambassadors were selected through a competitive application process for their experience and connections to regional energy development, grant writing skills, and support from their host organizations. They will be tasked with articulating community and regional needs, connecting stakeholders, promoting capacity development, facilitating regional technical assistance, and developing replicable projects.

Read more about the selected Arctic Energy Ambassadors.

Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study and Programa Acceso Solar are Ready

PR100 logo

DOE and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) released a summary report for the Puerto Rico Grid Resilience and Transitions to 100% Renewable Energy Study (PR100). The two-year study concludes that Puerto Rico can successfully meet its projected electricity needs with 100% renewable energy by 2050. PR100 outlines pathways to achieving clean energy success, including grid stabilization measures and the deployment of distributed energy resources.

To further assist Puerto Rico's energy resilience and clean energy goals, DOE also announced that as of February 22, 2024, residents can apply for DOE’s Programa Acceso Solar (Solar Access Program) — a program designed to connect up to 30,000 low-income households with residential rooftop solar and battery storage systems with zero upfront costs.

Learn more about PR100 and Programa Acceso Solar.

March 15, 2024 – Applications Open for Rural Energy for America Technical Assistance Grant Program (REAP TAG)

United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development

The United States Department of Agriculture designed the REAP TAG program to enable applicants to provide technical assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses that wish to apply for renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvement grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP TAG funds will be awarded on a competitive basis, with priority given to technical assistance providers that intend to recruit participation in distressed or disadvantaged communities and to support REAP applicants pursuing projects using underutilized technologies or seeking grants under $20,000. 

Eligible applicants include state, tribal, and local governments. For more information please visit the program website.