Maine’s Application to the US EPA Solar for All Program
Funded by the federal Inflation Reduction Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) launched a $7 billion Solar for All competition designed to spur the deployment of residential and community solar for millions of Americans. EPA will fund states and other entities to establish or expand “Solar for All” programs that support deployment of solar and energy storage to benefit qualifying low-income and disadvantaged communities as per Federal definitions. Learn more about Solar for All from the EPA here.
In October of 2023, the Governor’s Energy Office requested $99.5 million from EPA to establish a statewide “Solar for All” program. The proposal was built on broad public engagement, incorporating direct outreach to key stakeholders and opportunities for public comment as well as national best practices to overcome barriers to accessing affordable solar. Maine's proposal seeks to support workforce development opportunities that ensure quality clean energy jobs particularly for people in disadvantaged communities, siting and permitting assistance for communities to support responsible solar and energy storage permitting, and staff and technical support to improve access and remove barriers to these clean energy resources. The EPA anticipates making award decisions in March 2024.
Download 2-page PDF summary of the application by clicking here.
Incentives and Support Programs
In the proposal, GEO proposed a comprehensive suite of programs designed to equitably accelerate the deployment of solar and energy storage to benefit Maine’s most vulnerable households, delivering energy savings, a cleaner environment, and high quality jobs. Proposed programs include:
New incentives for residential rooftop solar and energy storage serving affordable multifamily housing and single-family homes of low-income households and those located in Federally-defined disadvantaged communities in Maine, to minimize financial barriers to rooftop solar benefits;
New technical and financial assistance to support cooperatively-owned community solar enabling households, resident-owned communities, Tribal communities, and community-based organizations, to participate in solar energy ownership without barriers of homeownership or rooftop suitability; and
A new community solar and energy storage program focused on serving low-income and disadvantaged households, utilizing competitive bidding and aligning with existing energy assistance programs to minimize costs and maximize benefits delivered directly to households through lower electricity bills while building energy resilience. This new program would build on the recommendations of the Distributed Generation Stakeholder Group, as directed by the Maine Legislature.
More about Maine’s Proposal
Maine’s Solar for All proposal strives to ensure that the benefits of the energy transition are delivered equitably, a central tenet of Maine’s climate action plan, Maine Won’t Wait. The GEO is grateful for the support for this proposal from more than 40 state, federal, Tribal, municipal, labor, community, nonprofit, and private sector partners. If fully funded, Maine’s Solar for All proposal will enable an estimated 38,000 low-income and disadvantaged households to access solar by supporting rooftop projects on owner-occupied and rental residences across the state, as well as cost-effective community solar to enable energy savings for low-income households. Additionally, the program will ensure quality job opportunities in the growing solar energy field, support the modernization of Maine’s electric grid, and provide resources to support communities in responsible solar deployment.
Public Input on Draft Program Framework
On September 9, 2023, the GEO released a Draft Program Framework for its application to the EPA Solar for All competition, seeking public comment. The Draft Program Framework outlined the potential mechanisms to deploy Solar for All funds that GEO considered proposing to the EPA. The GEO appreciates the time and attention that was given to this draft, and the public input that was received which contributed to a stronger application from the state. The Draft Program Framework is available here, though public comment is now closed.
The EPA expects to announce awards as soon as March 2024, and deliver funding to states and other awardees in July 2024. If the GEO successfully secures Solar for All funding, it will conduct extensive public engagement in advance of implementing the program in Maine.