April 2024 Policy Blog

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Kristen Cheriegate  |  ICAST Policy Analyst


New Energy Program Funding for Disadvantaged Communities

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it is opening applications for the Communities Sparking Investments in Transformative Energy (C-SITE) funding opportunity. C-SITE will award approximately $18 million to implement municipally- or Tribal-led, high-impact clean energy projects in disadvantaged communities, energy communities, small- and medium-sized cities and towns, and Tribal communities. The program is focused on projects and programs at the local level that reduce energy use, create local jobs, and focus on benefits to disadvantaged communities. Eligible project proposals include building electrification, energy infrastructure upgrades, renewable energy, and more. DOE anticipates making up to 20 awards, ranging from $900,000 to $3,600,000. Complete applications are due by May 31, 2024, at 5:00 pm E.T.

DOE Funding to Support Clean Energy Technology on Tribal Lands

The DOE has announced $25 million in funding for Tribes, intending to strengthen Tribal energy sovereignty through local clean energy generation while increasing energy access, reliability, and security. Tribes may use the funds to:

  • Install clean energy generating systems and/or energy efficiency measures for Tribal buildings.
  • Deploy community-scale clean energy generating systems or community energy storage on Tribal lands.
  • Install integrated energy system(s) for autonomous operation to power a single or multiple essential Tribal buildings during emergency situations or for Tribal community resilience.
  • Provide electric power to Tribal buildings, which otherwise would be unelectrified.

Applications are due May 30, 2024, at 5 pm E.T. 

Update on Clean Energy Connector Digital Tool for Community Solar

The Clean Energy Connector—the development announced by DOE and the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services in mid-2022—recently entered its pilot phase. The Connector is a digital tool that makes community solar (C.S.) subscriptions more accessible to households participating in government-run low-income support programs. It is meant to support the National Community Solar Partnerships’ target of enabling C.S. systems to power the equivalent of 5 million households and create $1 billion in energy bill savings by 2025. The Connector aims to address barriers to C.S. adoption by ensuring strong consumer protections, reducing customer acquisition and management costs, building investor confidence in low-income C.S. programs, and more. As of March 2024, three locations are currently piloting the software with C.S. projects and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program households. The pilot stage will be a phased process through 2024 and into 2025; DOE aims to identify 3-5 additional states to join the pilot stage in mid-2024.  

New Mexico First to Apply for Both Federal Home Energy Rebate Programs

New Mexico (N.M.) is the first state to apply to both of the DOE’s IRA-funded Home Energy Rebate (HER) Programs; it applied for its full allocation of $87.7 million. The HER programs comprise almost $9 billion, which will be disseminated to customers through states via the Home Efficiency Rebate program and the Home Electrification and Appliance Rebate program. N.M. residents will soon be able to save up to $14,000 on appliances, heat pumps, insulation, and other energy-efficiency and electrification improvements. For more information on other states’ progress, readers can refer to DOE’s interactive map, showing which states have applied for and received funding.



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