July 2023 Director's Message

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

Growing up in rural North Carolina, central air conditioning was a rarity. Most homes relied on window units, which were usually placed in the living or family rooms, with curtains drawn and doors to other rooms closed to generate a relaxing and cool environment. Whenever I would head out to play, a familiar refrain rang out from my parents, “Don’t hold that door open and let all of my good air out!” As children, we were oblivious to the seasonal heat—running and playing until we were drenched with perspiration from head to toe—then relaxing under a tree with flavored popsicles or slushees from the neighborhood store. 

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Message from the Assistant Director of External Affairs

Marjorie F. Harris, Assistant Director of External Affairs

I was fortunate over the past few months to join members of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (OEID) and represent the Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP) on their Justice 40 (J40) Roadshow through cities in the Rio Grande Valley and Gulf Coast regions of Texas and Louisiana. As I was leaving our last stop in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a resident came up to me. She hugged me and began to cry on my shoulder. “I have waited so long for someone to show up to help us,” she said. “I didn’t think anyone would ever hear us.” I hugged her back. “We are here,” I said. “We showed up.”

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Biden-Harris Administration Opens Applications for States and Territories to Implement $8.5 Billion Home Energy Rebates

Row of colorful homes in Baltimore

DOE announced it is accepting applications for state and territory implementation of the $8.5 billion Home Energy Rebate programs. The two Home Energy Rebate programs, introduced and funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, are flagship investments that pledge to cut energy costs and increase efficiency in American homes by making home energy upgrades more affordable. The published Administrative and Legal Requirements Document offers full federal guidance and instructions for states and territories to apply for their part of the Home Energy Rebate programs.

The two Home Energy Rebate Programs will provide up to $8.5 billion for states and territories to develop, implement, and enhance residential energy efficiency and electrification programs in U.S. households, saving consumers over $500 million annually in energy costs. With the program guidance from this Administrative and Legal Requirements Document, states and territories can now design their programs to align with local needs and interests, in addition to preparing their workforce and educating the public on home upgrade opportunities that save households energy, money, and carbon emissions.

In the coming weeks, DOE will provide an array of assistance to states and territories as they determine their next steps in developing rebate programs and submitting applications. To receive news about this assistance and other announcements from the Home Energy Rebates Program team as these efforts progress, sign up for email updates.

DOE Announces $27 Million to Support Clean Energy Plans to Benefit Disadvantaged Communities

Local, state, and tribal partnerships

In support of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (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).

To support program success, two webinars are scheduled, a general overview on July 27 at 2 p.m. ET and a tribal government-focused webinar on August 3 at 4 p.m. ET. Applications are due September 30, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET. Visit the Energy Future Grants webpage to stay up to date on program announcements.

Preparing Home Energy Contractors to Make Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Contractor Training Grants

New funding from SCEP will help states train and certify contractors to install electric systems in homes and make them more energy-efficient. The State-Based Home Energy Efficiency Contractor Training Grants, or Contractor Training Grants, make $200 million available to state energy offices so they can train, test, and certify residential energy efficiency and electrification contractors. This new program will prepare contractors and their employees to install the latest energy-saving technologies and building upgrades.

States can put contractors to work who are trained through this program by connecting them with projects funded by the Department of Energy’s Home Energy Rebate Programs, which provide rebates to eligible residents for retrofits and appliance upgrades that reduce energy use. 

View the Administrative and Legal Requirements Document for full funding information.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $90 Million to Support Resilient and Efficient Building Energy Codes and Save American Families Money

Brick buildings in front of skyscrapers

DOE has announced $90 million in competitive awards to help states, cities, tribes, and partnering organizations implement updated energy codes for buildings. Funded by the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, these awards will support 27 projects across 26 states and the District of Columbia to ensure buildings meet the latest standards for energy efficiency—reducing greenhouse gas emissions and lowering energy bills for American families and businesses.

Awardees will provide technical assistance for updating state and local building codes, which are projected to save Americans $138 billion on their utility bills and reduce 900 million metric tons of CO2 emissions by 2040. Modernizing energy codes is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve energy efficiency in homes and businesses and make communities more resilient to extreme weather events, which are key to addressing the climate crisis and achieving the Biden-Harris Administration’s ambitious clean energy goals. 

For more information on DOE’s activities supporting building codes, visit the Building Energy Codes Program website or see the full funding opportunity announcement.  

DOE Announces $14.7 Million for Microgrid Technologies for Underserved and Indigenous Communities

Rows of solar panels

To bring microgrid solutions to underserved and Indigenous communities, DOE announced a $14.7 million Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) for multiyear research, development, and demonstration of microgrid-related technologies. The goal is to bring microgrid solutions to underserved and Indigenous communities in remote, rural, and islanded regions in the United States. Programs such as this will ensure that low-cost reliable, resilient, clean energy is available to support and improve the lives of every American. 

With this FOA, DOE’s Office of Electricity's research partners will develop and demonstrate advanced microgrid-enabling technologies, including renewable generation and storage systems, multinodal small-scale high-voltage direct current, advanced demand-side management strategies, and microgrid control systems. The FOA also includes opportunities to address nontechnical barriers to deployment of microgrids in these communities, such as lack of local technical expertise and supply chain challenges.

Learn more about the Office of Electricity’s work.

EPA Seeking Applications to Two Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Competitions to Advance Clean Technology Projects in Communities Across the Country

$20 Billion for investments in pollution-reducing clean technology projects. $14 billion - National Clean Investment Fund. $6 billion - Clean Communities Investment Accelerator. Applications due: Oct 12, 2023. EPA

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched two Notices of Funding Opportunity for $20 billion across two grant competitions under the historic $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, an Inflation Reduction Act program central to President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda and environmental justice goals. Together, these competitive grant opportunities will mobilize private capital into clean technology projects to create good-paying jobs and lower energy costs for American families, especially in low-income and disadvantaged communities, while cutting harmful pollution to protect health and tackle the climate crisis. 

The $14 billion National Clean Investment Fund will provide grants to support two-to-three national clean financing institutions, enabling them to partner with the private sector to provide accessible, affordable financing for tens of thousands of clean technology projects nationwide. The $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator will provide grants to support two to seven hub nonprofit organizations, enabling them to provide funding and technical assistance to public, quasi-public, not-for-profit, and nonprofit community lenders working in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Tools and resources for prospective applicants, including webinar information and helpful templates, can be found on EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund webpage.

Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign Honors 17 School Districts for Upgrading Facility Health and Sustainability

Map of school districts honored

DOE’s Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign celebrated the achievements of 17 K-12 schools and districts that implemented exemplary projects to improve the energy and environmental performance of their school’s facilities. Schools were honored for upgrading facilities with technologies and practices that create healthy and more sustainable learning environments for students and staff and slash their facilities’ energy needs, carbon emissions, and utility bills.

Read about which schools were honored, what they did to improve their facilities, what leaders from DOE, EPA, and the U.S. Department of Education had to say about their efforts, and why energy efficiency and indoor air quality are "two sides of the same coin."

Find Expert Help for ENERGY STAR® Portfolio Manager® with the Searchable SPP Directory

Computer screen with portfolio manager website

Do you need help benchmarking in ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager, identifying which buildings to target for efficiency investments, or improving the energy efficiency of your building or tenant space? Find expert help with the newly enhanced ENERGY STAR Service and Product Provider (SPP) Directory.

The companies listed in this directory have demonstrated expertise in benchmarking customer properties using Portfolio Manager and assisting clients in earning ENERGY STAR recognition. And, as ENERGY STAR partners, these organizations have made a commitment to assisting clients with energy efficiency using proven ENERGY STAR tools and resources. For more information and to find an ENERGY STAR Service and Product Provider, visit the SPP Directory.  

New Electric Vehicle Toolkit Will Help Urban Communities Build Out Charging Infrastructure

Charging Forward: A toolkit for planning and funding urban electric mobility infrastructure

The U.S. Department of Transportation, in collaboration with DOE and the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation, released a free technical resource to help larger communities take full advantage of federal funding for electric vehicle charging stations and other forms of electric transportation.

Charging Forward: A Toolkit for Planning and Funding Urban Electric Mobility Infrastructure provides a comprehensive resource for communities, metropolitan planning organizations, transportation providers, businesses, and property owners and developers by including information on how to scope, plan, and identify ways to best leverage billions of dollars in funding from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. This builds on the efforts of the Joint Office to provide states and communities across America with information and assistance to accelerate an electrified transportation system that is convenient, affordable, reliable, and equitable.

The urban toolkit is available online, as well as on the U.S. Department of Transportation Navigator.

DOE Report Finds Clean Energy Jobs Grew in Every State in 2022

U.S. Department of Energy - Clean energy jobs are growing in all 50 states, employing 3.1 million workers in every pocket of America. energy.gov/useer

DOE released the 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER), a comprehensive study designed to track and understand employment trends across the energy sector. As the private sector continues to announce major investments in American-made energy (thanks in large part to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda), the 2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report shows that the energy workforce added almost 300,000 jobs (+3.8% growth) in 2022. 

Clean energy jobs increased in every state, reflecting increased investments due to President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Clean energy jobs grew 3.9% adding 114,000 jobs nationally, increasing to over 40% of total energy jobs.

DOE Partners With Nine Island and Remote Communities to Boost Resilience and Plan for Low-Cost Renewable Energy Systems

 Tropical beach. Road to the end of an island. Tracks through a snowy field. Boat on the water at sunset.

Unreliable power, lack of robust connections to mainstream power grids, and threats from strengthening storms are among the energy challenges faced by remote and island communities. Today, DOE’s Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project (ETIPP) is announcing nine new projects with remote and island communities building local energy systems that are sustainable, resilient, and reliable year-round.

These nine projects have been identified to help remote communities tailor the clean energy transition that makes the most sense for them. The communities—stretching across the entire United States, from Hawaii to Maine—will join 23 other projects that are already working toward clean energy solutions as part of the ETIPP network.

Through ETIPP, communities work with regional partner organizations and national laboratory experts to address local energy challenges. Learn about the nine communities joining ETIPP this year and the projects they each plan to tackle through the program.

Energizing Rural Communities Prize Awards 67 Winners $6.7 Million to Advance Clean Energy in Rural America

American Made U.S. Department of Energy - Energy Rural Communities Prize

DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) announced 67 winners in the first phase of the $6.7 million Energizing Rural Communities Prize. This prize challenges individuals and organizations to develop partnership and financing strategies to support efforts in rural or remote communities to improve their energy systems and advance clean energy demonstration projects. Each of the 67 winners will receive $100,000, in-kind-mentorship services, and eligibility to compete in Phase 2 of the prize to win an additional $200,000.

This prize is part of DOE’s $1 billion Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) Program, managed by OCED. The funding is available through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to demonstrate new ways to improve the resilience, reliability, and affordability of energy systems in communities across the country with 10,000 or fewer people. The ERA program reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to ensuring no communities are left behind in the historic transition to a clean energy future.

The ERA Program also supports rural and remote American communities through technical assistance, grants, and cooperative agreements. Learn more about the ERA Program on the OCED website.

DOE Launches Prize to Jump-Start Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Industry

Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize. American Made Wind Prize U.S. Department of Energy

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, DOE launched the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize. This $5.1 million competition funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will help the United States develop a cost-effective recycling industry for two important materials used in wind turbines: fiber-reinforced composites and rare earth elements. By helping to create a circular wind energy economy, this prize will increase the sustainability of wind energy and support President Biden’s goals of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050. The competition is open to private (for-profit and nonprofit) organizations, nonfederal government (such as state, county, tribal, and municipal) entities, academic institutions, and individuals that meet all eligibility requirements listed in the official rules.

Applications for Phase 1 are due on September 29, 2023, at 5 p.m. ET. DOE anticipates awarding $75,000 cash prizes to up to 20 applicants in Phase 1.

Learn more about the Wind Turbine Materials Recycling Prize and register for the informational webinar on August. 3, 2023, at 1 p.m. ET.