Federal funds will help thousands get solar power for free

  • By Jerry Cornfield Washington State Standard
  • Monday, May 6, 2024 5:34pm
  • NewsRegional News

Washington state will receive $156 million in federal funds for new programs to install rooftop solar on thousands of homes and apartment buildings, and to expand access to solar energy in tribal communities.

The money is a slice of $7 billion in grants nationwide the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced through its Solar For All program, which aims to make solar energy more available and affordable for low- and moderate-income Americans.

The funding is flowing under the 2022 federal Inflation Reduction Act. It will provide subsidies and low-cost financing to help property owners overcome financial barriers to going solar.

Gov. Jay Inslee called Solar For All “a game changer” and pledged $100 million of state Climate Commitment Act funds to amplify solar deployment. Those dollars are proceeds from the sale of pollution allowances through the state’s cap-and-invest program.

Inslee celebrated the federal grant award at a news conference in Seattle with EPA Regional Administrator Casey Sixkiller.

This is the perfect place, Inslee said, because Washington has “done so much to lead the nation and now the world in this effort to save our country and our homes from the ravages of climate change.”

In Washington, the state Department of Commerce will use the funds to start four new programs.

One will provide free rooftop solar installation for homeowners below certain income thresholds. Another will enable income-qualified renters, residents and tribal members to participate in community solar programs at no charge.

Under a third, owners of multifamily buildings will be able to get a no-interest, forgivable loan for energy efficiency, roof repairs and electrical upgrades if they commit to installing solar panels for the benefit of tenants. Additional no-interest loans will be available to them to put in solar and energy storage facilities on site.

For the fourth program, Commerce will team with federally recognized tribes on efforts to expand solar projects for residents.

Developing and launching the four programs is expected to take about a year. It is not known exactly how many people will be served solely with the federal funds.

Commerce, in its original grant application, requested $250 million from the feds to serve 10,000 households, with about a third getting solar panels on the roofs of their homes.

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Jerry Cornfield writes for the Washington State Standard (https://washingtonstatestandard.com), an independent, nonprofit news organization that produces original reporting on policy and politics.

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