October 2023 Director's Message

Henry McKoy

As the weather gets colder, I think about the days when I was growing up in rural North Carolina.
I was born in 1973, and for the first five years of my life, me and my three older sisters lived in what we would call a shot gun house with my grandmother.  It was a tiny home with no indoor plumbing, no telephone, and a pot belly stove. We lived on a dirt road, only a few hundred feet away from a trash dump. 
After my mother lost her job at the local factory, my sisters and I moved in with my parents to another house down a dirt road that was a bit bigger. It had indoor plumbing, but no hot water. To wash dishes and take baths, we had to boil the water on the stove. While there wasn’t a dump behind the house, there was raw sewage running above ground.
For the next ten years, until I was 15, I lived in this house that was collapsing around me and my family, with rats as big as kittens, no hot water, and no central heating or cooling. 

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Special Message: Celebrating the Remarkable Career of AnnaMaria Garcia: A Leader in Clean Energy Transformation

AnnaMaria Garcia

In my role as the head of the Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP), I find it essential to pause and express our profound gratitude for the remarkable contributions of AnnaMaria Garcia, the Associate Director at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Anna is a distinguished leader and expert who has dedicated her entire career to the enhancement of our environment and the transformation of our energy economy. We are immensely grateful for AnnaMaria's unwavering commitment to public service, with over 25 years of dedicated service within the federal government in close partnership with states across the nation.

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Join Us for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Second Annual Justice Week

Energy Justice text and illustration of community and wind farm

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE’s) Justice Week 2023: Equity Empowered is a five-day hybrid event dedicated to empowering each other to move toward a more equitable, clean, and just energy future.
To learn more about DOE’s energy justice initiatives join us Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2023 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET for Energy Justice Day and better understand the challenges and barriers that energy justice stakeholders face.

View the full agenda for DOE’s Justice Week 2023: Equity Empowered.

How SCEP is Working to Elevate Children’s Environmental Health

Illustration of school building and community members in front of the building

In honor of Children’s Environmental Health Day that took place on October 12 – DOE’s Office of State and Community Energy Programs (SCEP) would like to call attention to one specific type of investment that can significantly impact our kids’ health, happiness, and wellness: investment in cleaner, more energy-efficient buildings. 

The Renew America’s Schools program, a first-of-its-kind investment funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, comprises two competitive funding opportunities: the Renew America’s Schools Grant, and the Energy Champions Leading the Advancement of Sustainable Schools Prize (Energy CLASS Prize). The Renew America’s Schools grant, the program’s flagship funding opportunity, focuses on funding infrastructure upgrades at K–12 public school facilities, prioritizing high-need school communities. Launched in tandem with the Renew America’s Schools grant, the Energy CLASS Prize is a two-phase, $4.5 million competitive award that promotes capacity building and energy management in school districts across America. Both garnered unprecedented interest and will benefit thousands of students and teachers across America. 

At SCEP, we’re proud of the work we’re doing to promote children’s health, safety, and wellness in schools. Read more about our work Elevating Children’s Environmental Health. We know there is so much work left to do before all children have access to equitable, safe, and healthy school buildings. We’re invested in this work because our kids are worth it. Join us, and let’s build them a better future.

Take Advantage of Upcoming K-12 Opportunities

Children boarding school bus

In keeping with the theme of empowering K–12 schools to make critical clean energy and health improvements check out upcoming DOE and external partner opportunities:  

  • Register for DOE’s Power of Partnerships webinar on Thursday, Nov. 16 at 1 p.m. ET, to learn how partnerships with community-based organizations, energy service companies, universities, and utilities are helping schools address energy improvement challenges.
  • Join DOE Schools Teaming Partner List today if you are an organization that is willing to support schools with meeting their energy and climate goals. 
  • Apply to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) 2023 Clean School Bus (CSB) Rebate Program by Jan. 31, 2024 at 4 p.m. ET to access rebates to replace existing school buses with clean and zero-emission models.
  • Learn more about WRI’s Electric School Bus Initiative, which is helping districts take advantage of funding opportunities free resources on the school bus electrification process, including a step-by-step guide, a power planner for working with electric utilities, and a market report/buyer’s guide detailing the electric school bus models on the road today.
  • Check out the winners of the DOE’s First-Ever HBCU Clean Energy Education Prize who have each received $40,000 to support the development or enhancement of clean energy-focused summer programs for K-12 and community college students.

Last Chance to Apply for DOE’s Energy Future Grants (EFG)

SCEP State, local and tribal partnerships graphic

The deadline for DOE’s Energy Future Grants (EFG) program is coming up on Nov. 10, 5 p.m. ET. 

EFG provides $27 million in financial assistance and technical assistance to support local, state, and tribal government-led partnership efforts that will advance clean energy program innovation. EFG seeks to enhance energy affordability and access for communities, ensuring the broad benefits of a clean energy economy — including health, economic development and jobs, and emissions reductions — flow to disadvantaged communities.

EFG will provide support for approximately 50 multijurisdictional teams (ideally 3-4 or more state, local, and tribal government partners). Teams will further partner with community benefit organizations to turn innovative (novel or early action) ideas into solutions that address barriers to clean energy deployment. Learn more and apply today!

Join the Energy Savings Performance Contracting (ESPC) Campaign

ESPC Campaign logo

Achieve significant energy, environmental, and cost savings at little to no upfront cost by joining the DOE's new ESPC Campaign
The ESPC Campaign is a voluntary initiative to help states, local governments, schools, and other public-sector organizations modernize public buildings, address deferred maintenance, save on utility bills, and achieve efficiency targets with the use of performance contracting. 
The ESPC Campaign engages public sector partners and industry allies to share and demonstrate tools, resources, and best practice approaches to expand and enhance ESPC programs and projects. Through access to DOE technical assistance and peer exchange and networking opportunities, the ESPC Campaign will help partners achieve $1 billion in measured and verified savings by 2030.
Sign up to join or learn more by visiting the campaign website or contacting ESPCcampaign@hq.doe.gov.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $30 Million in Clean Energy Funding to 28 State, Local and Tribal Governments

Team installs solar panels on roof

As part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, DOE’s SCEP Office awarded $30 million in clean energy funding through the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program to 28 state, local, and Tribal governments.

Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE awarded $21.87 million in formula grant funding to eight states and eight local governments and selected 12 recipients for $8.8 million in competitive grant funding. Funds will be deployed to improve energy efficiency and advance crucial clean energy and infrastructure upgrades in public and private spaces, including hospitals, homes, manufactured housing parks, and government buildings.

Learn more about the 28 state, local, and Tribal governments recipients.

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $45 Million to help Nonprofits Lower Energy Costs and Increase Impacts

Illustration of buildings and community members walking on sidewalk

The Biden-Harris Administration, through DOE, announced selectees for the Renew America’s Nonprofits grant, a competitive award that will support projects to reduce energy use and costs in buildings owned and operated by 501(c)(3)s. Nine nonprofit organizations will share $45 million in awards to improve energy efficiency in approximately 300 nonprofit buildings across the country. Using a nonprofits-supporting-nonprofits model, these “Prime Selectees” will work with hundreds of other nonprofits across America, sub-awarding grants of up to $200,000 per facility, and providing technical and administrative assistance to bring much-needed retrofit projects to fruition. 

Between cultivating healthier community spaces – in food banks, housing complexes, religious institutions, health service organizations, and more – and saving operational dollars so that nonprofits can focus on their missions, DOE’s investments will ultimately benefit thousands of people. 
Read more about the Renew America’s Nonprofits Prime Selectees!

DOE Improves Guidance for States to Simplify and Expediate Rebate Rollouts

Row of colorful houses

To respond to consumer demand and feedback from state energy programs, DOE has issued updated guidance for states applying for Home Energy Rebates funding.

These updates will simplify requirements and reduce administrative complexities for states, which promotes faster program launches, more streamlined implementation, and an easier experience for households applying for rebates.

Home Energy Rebates will help American households save money on energy bills, upgrade to clean energy equipment, improve energy efficiency, and reduce indoor and outdoor air pollution. DOE estimates these rebates will save households up to $1 billion on energy bills each year and support over 50,000 U.S. jobs.

Review the major improvements and updated documents for the Home Energy Rebates.

DOE Just Launched the 8th Energy Earthshot: Affordable Home Energy Shot

Energy Earthshots | Affordable Home Energy logo

DOE recently launched the eighth Energy Earthshot™ — the Affordable Home Energy Shot™ — to accelerate innovative breakthroughs and reduce costs to decarbonize our nation’s residential buildings. Through this Energy Earthshot, DOE aims to reduce the upfront cost of upgrading a home by at least 50% while reducing energy bills by 20% within a decade. Providing affordable, scalable solutions that can upgrade buildings of all types is essential to achieving this bold goal.

All Energy Earthshots™ work to accelerate breakthroughs of more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions within the decade.  They will drive the major innovation breakthroughs that must be achieved to solve the climate crisis, reach 2050 net-zero carbon goals, and create the jobs of the new clean energy economy.

New Release of a DOE Liftoff Report “The Pathway to: Virtual Power Plants Commercial Liftoff” 

Virtual Power Plants graphic

The Pathway to: Virtual Power Plants Commercial Liftoff” report was recently released by DOE. Meant for a diverse audience of stakeholders who can help accelerate liftoff for virtual power plants (VPPs), this report is part of series of liftoff reports aiming to accelerating the commercialization of clean energy technologies. This report aims to catalyze and organize a dialogue between DOE, state and national regulators, policymakers, utilities, ISOs/RTOs, corporations, research organizations, advocacy groups, and more around challenges and potential solutions for liftoff. One such potential solution from the report is that large-scale deployment of VPPs could help address demand increases and rising peaks at lower cost than conventional resources, reducing the energy costs for Americans – one in six of whom are already behind on electricity bills. 

Read the whole report and other Liftoff reports.

Still Time to Apply to DOE’s new Renewable Energy Siting through Technical Engagement and Planning (R-STEP) Program

United States map

DOE is still accepting submissions for the $10 million funding and technical assistance program that supports the creation of new, or the expansion of existing, state-based programs or initiatives that improve renewable energy siting processes at the state and local levels.

The Renewable Energy Siting through Technical Engagement and Planning (R-STEP) program expands the decision-making capacity and expertise of state and local governments around large-scale renewable energy planning, siting, and permitting.

This opportunity closes on Nov. 3, 2023 at 5 p.m. ET. Apply now!

Apply to DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) Distributed Energy Systems Demonstration

Person working from laptop

The DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) issued a Distributed Energy Systems Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that aims to provide $50 Million in support for demonstrations that showcase technical and financial approaches to aggregate large amounts of distributed energy resources to address peak load and other needs.

The FOA seeks utilities and for-profit entities as prime applicants. State, local and Tribal governments are eligible as subrecipients and encouraged to explore partnership opportunities. Concept papers, which are required, are due Nov. 16, 2023.

Submit your concept paper today!

It’s Not Too Late to Apply to Two Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Grants

Drinking water system

EPA announced $19 million in new grant funding that will work to improve the climate resilience of the nation’s water infrastructure. EPA’s Drinking Water System Infrastructure Resilience and Sustainability grant program will support drinking water systems in underserved, small and disadvantaged communities that are working to prepare for and reduce vulnerability to impacts from climate change ranging from extreme flooding to extreme drought.

The funding opportunity will remain open until Nov. 6, 2023 and more information is available on the Grants.gov webpage.

Applications are also open for the EPA’s Brownfield’s Multipurpose Assessment, RLF, and Cleanup (MARC) Grant. Assessing, cleaning up and redeveloping a brownfield helps transform the site from an eyesore or safety concern into a property that provides environmental and economic benefits back to your community. Further, both Renewable Energy (RE) and Energy Efficiency (EE) technologies reduce the need for fossil fuels, which leads to less pollution and better health. These technologies also support job creation, as nearly five jobs are created (on average) for each $1 million spent on RE and EE as compared to fossil fuels.

Apply today to the EPA’s MARC grant to work towards this process. The application deadline is Nov. 13, 2023.

DOE Delegation Visits Highland Park Communities Local Energy Action Program (Communities LEAP) Coalition

Community members gathered in Highland Park, Michigan

Highland Park, surrounded by Detroit, is one of the more segregated and economically depressed cities in the country, due in part to the automotive industry relocating manufacturing in the late 20th century.

To help address these challenges and accomplish the community’s vision for a clean, efficient, and resilient energy future, the Highland Park Community Crisis Coalition (HPC3), Avalon Village, Parker Village, Soulardarity, and the City of Highland Park formed a community coalition. In 2021, they applied for Communities LEAP.

Recently, a DOE delegation, led by Shalanda Baker, Director of the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, visited Highland Park, Michigan to meet with them, learn about their progress and to discuss next steps to support the community’s energy goals. In the past through Communities LEAP, they have worked with a team of technical assistance providers to prepare a regulatory analysis, a financial model analysis, and implementation best practice case studies to support the creation of a municipal street lighting program and deployment of various distributed renewable energy generating resources to help provide electricity to the community.

Learn how Highland Park, Michigan is working toward its vision for a clean, efficient, and resilient energy!

Informing an Equitable Transition to Electric Vehicles in Atlanta's Metropolitan Area

Electric vehicle

The second-largest metropolitan region in the United States, Atlanta has 6.3 million residents with a growing population expected to increase 38% by 2050. To support this growth, the Atlanta Regional Commission is using the State and Local Planning for Energy (SLOPE) Platform to inform and integrate equity considerations into expanding electric vehicles and charging infrastructure.

The commission is using SLOPE to answer key questions, like “how would increased adoption of EVs impact CO2 emissions?” and “what county-specific and region-wide targets are feasible?”

“SLOPE is helping account for all carbon reduction potential across transportation and buildings,” explains Kofi Wakhisi, planning administrator for the Atlanta Regional Commission. “[We are] using SLOPE data to understand the built environment such as multifamily housing and opportunities to co-locate charging infrastructure for multiple private and public users and make access more equitable.”

SLOPE is a collaboration between DOE and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory designed to support data-driven state and local energy and planning. Read the full story on the SLOPE Story Page to learn more.

Maximizing Clean Energy Opportunities in the Inflation Reduction Act: A Roadmap for U.S. Local Governments

wind farm

The World Resources Institute (WRI) held a webinar on Sept. 19, 2023 that introduced a new Roadmap for Maximizing Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) Opportunities and Community Benefits for local governments to maximize IRA incentives for clean energy projects and bring economic, health and social benefits to their communities. WRI experts explained the revised clean energy tax credits and walked through roles that local governments can play and strategies they can employ to accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies broadly.

Explore the Roadmap and considerations and actions U.S. local governments can take to advance their decarbonization goals and shape a more equitable energy future for their communities.