Program Looks to Energize Solar ProjectsPosted: Updated:
The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development is using $400,000 to create a grant program designed to boost solar energy projects in parts of the state. The Solar Uniting Neighbors program is being funded by money from a legal settlement between American Electric Power and the United States Environmental Protection Agency. The initiative will offer technical and financial help to install small solar energy projects. The projects must be less than 0.5 megawatts and within the Indiana Michigan Power service area.
Informational workshops are set to begin later this summer or early fall.
August 4, 2014
Indianapolis, Ind. -- The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development (IACED) has received $400,000 to create a grant program - Solar Uniting Neighbors (SUN) - to boost new solar energy projects in communities in the service territory of Indiana Michigan Power, a unit of American Electric Power (I&M).
Through this project, IACED will offer technical and financial assistance to its members and other partners to install small solar energy projects (less than 0.5 megawatts). The grants likely will range from $20,000 to $30,000 for 10 to 17 separate installations. IACED will hold community meetings to educate local leaders about the project.
"Solar and other types of renewable energy are a strategy for community sustainability and resiliency," said Andy Fraizer, IACED executive director. "This program will provide resources for local organizations, remove barriers and teach neighborhoods and communities across the state about the benefits of solar energy projects."
IACED will work with the firm of Sustainable Catalyst Partners to create and administer SUN. Specifically, SUN will:
-Remove cost barriers to the acquisition and installation of solar photovoltaics;
-Lower energy costs for transformative community economic development projects;
-Generate cost cutting energy credits for surplus electricity production;
-Leverage investments in solar panels by project sponsors in the I&M service area; and
-Build capacity for solar energy in the I&M service area communities.
The funds provided come from American Electric Power, I&M's parent company, under a legal settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, eight states, and 13 citizens' groups. The settlement included an agreement by AEP to invest $2.5 million to improve air quality in Indiana through various projects.
The AEP settlement monies are being overseen by an oversight committee that includes the Citizens Action Coalition, Hoosier Environmental Council, Indiana Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club and Environmental Law & Policy Center.
"We are thrilled to secure a portion of these settlement funds for the advancement of carbon-free and sustainable energy," said Kerwin Olson, executive director of the Citizens Action Coalition. "Affordable, clean and homegrown energy must become an essential component of our economic development and be incorporated into the revitalization of our communities."
IACED is the state's leading community economic development organization that supports a network of groups and efforts to build vital communities and resilient families throughout Indiana. It advocates for public policies and assists members and community partners in developing solutions that engage local leaders in rebuilding Indiana communities.
Source: Indiana Association for Community Economic Development