SC wins $124M for solar energy helping poor communities

Doris Brown stands outside her solar-powered home in Houston. A hefty infusion of federal dollars under the Inflation Reduction Act could lead to more solar-powered homes in lower-income areas, providing relief to households that pay a disproportionate amount of their income on energy. (Provided by Solar United Neighbors)

COLUMBIA — South Carolina’s Office of Resilience has won a $124 million federal grant for solar programs that help low-income communities, as part of $7 billion awarded nationwide by the Environmental Protection Agency.

“Ensuring a diversified mix of energy generation is a critical factor for increasing communities’ resilience to natural hazards,” Ben Duncan, the state’s chief resilience officer, said in a statement Tuesday. 

The agency “recognizes that expanding solar and other energy efficiency measures will help reduce the energy burden on low-income and disadvantaged households,” he said. 

In the Palmetto State, the funding will support launching a Solar Innovation Fund, grants for creative solar energy projects at low-income housing and community centers. The EPA grant will also go toward workforce training and collaborations with energy efficiency programs that assist the poor. 

The Office of Resilience applied for $200 million from the fund, according to prior reporting in the SC Daily Gazette. The first year will serve as a planning period, during which the office will talk to communities, utilities, state agencies and other organizations, according to a release from the office. 

Nationally, the grants include 49 state-level awards along with six awards to Tribal governments and five multi-state awards, and impact over 900,000 households according to the EPA.

“Pursuing this unprecedented, $124 million federal investment shows that the state recognizes the vital role of solar and other renewable energy solutions in South Carolina’s energy generation mix,” John Tynan, president of Conservation Voters of South Carolina, said in a separate press release.

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