Federal Funding for Municipalities to Expand Solar Programs for Low-Income Residents


  • Peyton Siler Jones
July 11, 2023 - (4 min read)

The Inflation Reduction Act, passed in August 2022, is the largest federal investment in climate and clean energy in the history of the United States. It included a number of programs to help communities access and maximize clean energy, including the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund’s (GHGRF) Solar for All program. This $7 billion competitive grant opportunity will award up to 60 grants to eligible applicants, including municipalities, to fund residential distributed solar programs to serve low-income and disadvantaged communities nationwide.  

On June 28, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for the Solar for All program. Within the $7 billion allocated for the program through the Inflation Reduction Act, there are three award sizes, and municipalities can apply for one or more program categories: a small-sized program ($25 – $100 million); a medium-sized program ($100 – $250 million); or a large-sized program ($250 – $400 million).  

What is Solar for All?  

The purpose of the Solar for All program is to “expand existing low-income solar programs as well as develop and implement new Solar for All programs nationwide. Solar for All programs ensure low-income households have equitable access to residential rooftop and residential community solar power, often by providing financial support and incentives to communities that were previously locked out of investments. In addition, these programs guarantee low-income households receive the benefits of distributed solar, including household savings, community ownership, energy resiliency, and other benefits.” (Solar for All, June 28, United States Enviromental Protection Agency

Residential solar is a secure and independent source of energy and cuts home energy bill costs. Solar for All will help low-income and disadvantaged communities experience these meaningful benefits. Recent studies have identified racial disparities in access to residential solar in the U.S. and this grant funding allows municipalities to support equitable access to solar deployment.   

The Solar for All program advances President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which works to ensure that 40% of the benefits of certain Federal investments go to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by pollution. The program will also help meet the President’s goal of achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. 

Next Steps 

One: Attend the Informational Webinar  

EPA’s Solar for All team will host at least one informational webinar to provide information on the Solar for All grant competition and the application process on July 12 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm ET (Register Here). The webinar recording will be posted on EPA’s GGRF webpage. Tools and resources for prospective grantees, including webinar links and helpful templates, can be found on EPA’s GGRF webpage

Two: Submit a Notice of Intent to Apply 

All interested applicants are required to submit a Notice of Intent (NOI) to apply to this competition. The deadline for municipalities to submit a NOI is August 14 (except D.C. who must submit by July 14). More information on the requirements for the NOI is included in Section I.F: Required Notice of Intent of the Notice of Funding Opportunity. 

Three: Confirm Your Municipality’s Unique Entity Identifier  

All applicants for a federal grant must have an active SAM.gov and Grants.gov registration in order to apply.  

Starting April 4, 2022, the Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, which has traditionally been used to apply for grants on grants.gov, was replaced with the Unique Entity Identifier (UEI). If your city, town or village is already registered with SAM.gov, a UEI number has already been assigned and is viewable at SAM.gov. If your municipality does not have a UEI number yet, U.S. agencies are encouraging entities to apply for a UEI number immediately in order to be eligible to apply for grants. 

The process can take a month or more for new registrants, so it is recommended to start the process now if your city is interested in applying for the Solar for All program. 

Four: Submit Full Application 

The deadline to apply to this competitive grant competition through grants.gov is September 26 . 

EPA anticipates making award announcements beginning July 2024. 

Go Deeper: Register for the SolSmart Program

SolSmart’s no-cost technical assistance team helps local governments and regional organizations accelerate the growth of clean, affordable solar energy in their jurisdictions. Learn more and sign up to receive free, cost-saving support! 

About the Author

Peyton Siler Jones

About the Author

Peyton Siler Jones is the Program Director of Sustainability at the National League of Cities.