• "Virginia will benefit from its first-ever Solar Powered Community Resiliency Hub. The Hub, which will be located in an historic district in the city of Petersburg, would not be possible without the technical assistance provided by the Clean Energy Group."

    Queen Zakia Shabazz, Executive Director of United Parents Against Lead and Coordinator of the Virginia Environmental Justice Collaborative, Technical Assistance Fund Awardee 2020

Resilient Power Project Technical Assistance Fund

Resilient power – solar PV paired with battery storage (solar+storage) – can provide life-saving backup power in the event of an outage and provide economic benefits during times of regular grid operations.

Clean Energy Group’s Technical Assistance Fund (TAF) supports resilient power development in low-income, environmental justice, and communities of color by providing small grant funding to support the first step in the solar+storage development process: completing a feasibility assessment. This assessment provides critical insight into the economics and project components of developing solar+storage at a specific facility. Once completed, organizations can utilize the assessment report to seek financing, grant support, or engage a developer.

Eligibility: TAF awardees provide essential services to vulnerable communities in the event of a power outage. Past recipients have included municipal facilities, affordable housing providers (both nonprofit and private), institutions of faith, first responders (such as police and fire), health clinics, and community facilities, such as community centers, food pantries, nonprofit service providers, and cooling centers. Eligible facilities are located in and serve low-income communities, environmental justice communities, and communities of color. Contact Marriele Mango, Project Director, at marriele@cleanegroup.org, with questions about eligibility.

Program Overview and Goals:

  • Award grants. The TAF provides grants, typically ranging from $5,000 to $7,500 for a single facility, to cover the cost of engaging a trusted third-party technical services provider to perform a preliminary technical and financial feasibility analysis to determine the sizing, cost, and benefits of resilient solar+storage.
  • Prioritize underserved populations. The TAF only awards grants to essential services providers located in and/or serving environmental justice, low-income communities, and communities of color. CEG is committed to awarding at least 50% of annual TAF funds to facilities owned and/or operated by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-led organizations.
  • Document impact. CEG has awarded more than $1 million in TAF grants to over 100 affordable housing and nonprofit community organizations, representing resilient solar+storage projects across 22 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. To date, the grant awards have resulted in the completion of 31 resilient solar+storage projects in low-income and communities of color, with more projects advancing toward completion each year.

Throughout this process, CEG provides one-on-one tailored support to our TAF partners. In this capacity, CEG assumes the following responsibilities:

  • Connect: By engaging a third-party engineer to conduct a solar+storage feasibility analysis, CEG can connect organizations with a trusted feasibility assessment provider. TAF recipients can also work with their own develop/engineer and CEG will walk them through the TAF process and provide support throughout.
  • Inform: CEG provides our partners with an overview of solar+storage that is designed for their level of experience, from beginner to expert, explaining resilient power technologies as well as the health, economic, and resilience benefits. TAF recipients can look to CEG for materials ranging from broad overviews to specific project case studies in their region. For those interested, CEG can host educational events for staff or community members.
  • Independent Expertise: The feasibility analysis provided through the TAF is meant to provide recipients with the tools to make informed decisions about the size and scope of resilient power system they intend to pursue. CEG continues to provide expertise and support after the analysis has concluded and recipients begin to navigate the implementation process.
  • Amplify: CEG’s existing platform allows us to amplify community voices in spaces where they might otherwise not be heard. CEG collaborates with partners to publish blogs, articles, and case studies and tell their stories through webinars. These materials are shared with thousands of stakeholders, including other community-based organizations, state and federal agencies, and private foundations.

Learn More About the Technical Assistance Fund

Geographic Focus:

  • Funded projects may be located anywhere in the country, including Washington D.C. and U.S. territories
  • Projects must directly serve low-income populations and/or BIPOC communities. CEG is committed to awarding 50% of TAF support to advance the work of BIPOC-led organizations
  • Projects will be selected based on their importance in providing critical services to low-income populations, BIPOC communities, and other marginalized groups such as those located at assisted living, supportive housing, and emergency shelters
  • There may also be limited situations that warrant exceptions to these guidelines

Project Focus:

  • Supported projects typically include solar and battery storage, though these may be paired with other clean resilient power technologies such as fuel cells, combined heat and power (CHP), and energy efficiency measures
  • Projects involve clean, onsite generation that can support critical loads independent of the utility grid by islanding during a power outage
  • Projects not serving as sources of reliable backup power may be considered if they deliver clear economic benefits to low-income residents or to community facilities providing an essential public service

TAF Awards Can Cover:

  • Third-party technical services needed to determine the technical and financial feasibility of a specific resilient power project (i.e., feasibility studies and technical advice)
  • Pre-development costs associated with resilient power projects, where appropriate

Grant Amount:

  • A typical grant from the TAF is in the $5,000 to $15,000 range depending on the number of facilities involved and complexity of the project

Application Process and Timeline:

  • Parties interested in requesting a TAF award should fill out this form, which requires some of the following information:
  • Name of the property, development, or project
  • Name(s) of primary contact, organization, email, and telephone
  • Size and type of community benefiting from the potential project
  • Name(s) of property owner and occupant/host
  • Name(s) of solar developer and energy storage developer (if known at this time).
  • Preliminary description of potential critical loads to be covered by implementing the project (if applicable).
  • Estimated size of the distributed generation and energy storage systems.
  • Description of key people who will manage the project.
  • Any available additional information that would help CEG understand the project.
  • Once an application is submitted, CEG staff will review the application and contact the applicant with any additional questions
  • In all cases, the decisions to approve project proposals for the TAF and determine the terms of the grant agreements will be made exclusively by CEG staff, with approval of CEG’s CFO

TAF Agreement Terms:

  • CEG will establish terms of the grant agreement with recipients on issues concerning the scope of funded work and the use of and reporting requirements for the funds expended under the grant

When is the best time to apply for a TAF award?

  • The TAF accepts applications on a rolling basis, so there is no deadline on when to apply.

Do I have to find my own third-party solar+storage technical services provider?

  • The TAF can be used to fund a technical feasibility assessment from any trusted technical services providers. If you are unsure or do not know who to work with, CEG has long-term partnerships and can refer you to a provider.

How far along in the project development process do I need to be before applying?

  • The TAF covers pre-development feasibility analysis, which will help with decisions to be made regarding what types of resilient power systems to install on a particular site. We recommend you apply prior to having made those decisions. Both new construction and existing facilities are eligible.

Can I request multiple TAF awards?

  • There is not a limit to the number of applications you can submit. However, CEG rarely funds two separate projects from the same organization at the same time. If you are having difficulty deciding where to pursue resilient power among multiple properties, we are happy to provide a preliminary analysis to assist in project prioritization.

Can TAF awards cover the purchase of resilient power systems?

  • Unfortunately, at this time we cannot provide grants to cover the purchase of resilient power systems.

There are thousands of resilient solar+storage projects now deployed or in development across the U.S.
More communities are becoming aware of the benefits that resilient power can offer. Unfortunately, many owners and developers of affordable housing and community-serving facilities do not have the in-house experience and capacity to develop clean, resilient power projects, or the economic resources to engage third-party technical expertise. There are technical, financial, and operational details that are new to most organizations interested in developing a resilient power project.

The TAF is designed to address these information gaps by providing organizations with third-party technical services to assess the feasibility of a solar+storage system at a specific facility or facilities. These assessments result in a report overviewing system sizing and cost, as well as any economic and resilience benefits. Property owners learn how solar+storage can generate revenue, provide backup power in the event of an outage (including what loads can be supported and for how long), and the details necessary when planning for a system (such as where the battery would be located and how much space is required). This information can then be used to begin engaging potential project developers, issue a request for proposals (RFP), or inform fundraising efforts.

When the electric grid goes down, it is imperative that critical community facilities and services providers continue to be supplied with reliable electrical power so they can keep providing essential services in the event of a power outage. Traditionally, facilities that require backup power have relied on diesel generators. But diesel generators are notoriously unreliable, and their duration of service is limited by the amount of fuel that can be stored on-site or trucked in during a disaster.

An alternative to traditional generator backup power is resilient power – solar photovoltaics paired with battery storage (solar+storage). Battery storage, which can bank electricity during normal grid operations to be used in the event of an outage, can island – or isolate — from the grid to provide automatic and reliable backup power. When battery storage is paired with solar, the system can continue to power loads as long as the sun is available to power loads and recharge the system.

Not only can resilient power improve electricity reliability as a source of critical backup power, it can also boost the economic resilience of communities by reducing utility bills and generating revenue through grid services.

To learn more about solar+storage technologies, benefits, and costs, see CEG’s report, Understanding Solar+Storage

Throughout the TAF process, CEG provides one-on-one support, including explaining what resilient power is, how it can benefit a facility, its challenges and limitations, and overviewing the solar+storage development process. CEG is also available to answer any questions that arise and can provide educational opportunities for recipient staff and community members. CEG also communicates regularly with the third-party technical services provider to ensure that the process is as smooth as possible and all questions are answered in a timely manner.

Throughout the TAF process and after project completion, CEG works to highlight and disseminate community partners’ resilient power journey. This includes developing educational materials such as case studies, one-pagers and webinars. These materials can be used by organizations to inform their membership and leadership on the benefits of resilient power.

For example, CEG hosted a webinar in March 2021 featuring TAF awardee Solar Responders and their work developing solar+storage for fire stations in Puerto Rico – slides and a recording are available here.

Support CEG’s Technical Assistance Fund – Donate Today

“Jubilee Housing expresses its gratitude to Clean Energy Group for their grant, which not only allowed the organizations to create a first of its kind Resiliency Center at the Maycroft Apartments, but most importantly is channeling the benefits of solar+storage to low-income housing residents – who most severely feel the impact of energy outages.”

“Developing such resiliency solutions is at the forefront of the nation’s affordable housing and renewable energy dialogues, and should be a model for others. Clean Energy Group was a key partner in developing and implementing this important proof-of-concept project.”

“With our Technical Assistance Fund grant, our small grassroots non-profit was able to hire a local consultant to work with us on finding a low-budget solar+storage system for our small food hub in a rural community highly impacted by Hurricane María. “

“Clean Energy Group helped complete feasibility studies for two solar-plus-battery storage projects and continues to be a key partner as we move towards implementation. These projects will bring resilient power solutions to critical facilities in the Providence communities that need them most and we are grateful to have CEG’s support and expertise.”

“In serving our local tribal community, it is critical that we implement strategies that provide environmental and cultural resource protection and emergency response during wildfires and power outages. The grant facilitated support from local government officials and partnership organizations for the museum to become a designated resilience hub and generated capital funding from multiple federal and private sources.”

“From our first meeting, the CEG team has been supportive and provided guidance and resources to see us through the completion of a feasibility study to where we are now, on the brink of the actual solar PV installation. In addition, CEG has given us the opportunity to learn from and share our experience with others embarking on the solar+storage journey. We are fortunate to be in partnership with Clean Energy Group.”

TAF RECIPIENT PROFILES

Cimarron Forestry Office (TAF Recipient 2018)

NM Forestry District Office

The Energy Conservation and Management Division (ECMD) of New Mexico ensured one of its remote District Forestry Offices would be able to communicate with emergency services during a wildfire event by installing solar+storage. Read a full project profile here.

Via Mobility Services (TAF Awardee 2016)

A leading nonprofit mobility services provider and emergency second responder in Boulder, CO invested in resilient power upgrades to power critical transportation services for vulnerable populations during an outage. Read a full project profile here.

Rancho Verde Apartments (TAF Awardee 2017)

The Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura invested in resilient power upgrades for an affordable housing development catering to farmworker households to provide emergency backup power during an outage. Read a full project profile here.

Hartley Nature Center (TAF Awardee 2016)

Spurred by historic flooding, the City of Duluth, MN installed solar+storage to provide emergency backup power during severe weather events at a city-owned nature and community learning center. Read a full project profile here.

Vieques Emergency Management (TAF Awardee 2018)

The island of Vieques, PR had its grid infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Vieques Oficina Municipal para el Mangejo de Emergencias (OMME) office in now prepared for frequent outages thanks to a solar+storage powered emergency management trailer. Read a full project profile here.

Boulder Housing Partners (TAF Awardee 2016)

The largest affordable housing provider in Boulder, CO installed a solar+storage system in their headquarters to ensure they could continue to coordinate services for residents during an outage. Read a full project profile here.

  • Boulder Housing Partners (TAF Awardee 2016)

    The largest affordable housing provider in Boulder, CO installed a solar+storage system in their headquarters to ensure they could continue to coordinate services for residents during an outage. (Photo: Clean Energy Group)

  • Rancho Verde Apartments (TAF Awardee 2017)

    The Housing Authority of the City of San Buenaventura invested in resilient power upgrades for an affordable housing development catering to farmworker households to provide emergency backup power during an outage. (Photo: Spectrum Energy)

  • Hartley Nature Center (TAF Awardee 2016)

    Spurred by historic flooding, the City of Duluth, MN installed solar+storage to provide emergency backup power during severe weather events at a city-owned nature and community learning center. (Photo: Ecolibrium3)

  • Cimmaron Forestry Office (TAF Awardee 2018)

    The Energy Conservation and Management Division (ECMD) of New Mexico ensured one of its remote District Forestry Offices would be able to communicate with emergency services during a wildfire event by installing solar+storage. (Photo: M. Gaiser, NM State Energy Office 2019)

  • Via Mobility Services (TAF Awardee 2016)

    A leading nonprofit mobility services provider and emergency second responder in Boulder, CO invested in resilient power upgrades to power critical transportation services for vulnerable populations during an outage. (Photo: Via Mobility Services)

  • Vieques Emergency Management (TAF Awardee 2018)

    The island of Vieques, PR had its grid infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Maria in 2017. The Vieques Oficina Municipal para el Mangejo de Emergencias (OMME) office in now prepared for frequent outages thanks to a solar+storage powered emergency management trailer. (Photo: Footprint Project)

    Final commissioning of the Vieques Emergency Management Trailer at the Puerto Rico Science, Technology and Research Trust. Credit: Footprint Project

Read full profiles of all of these projects on the Featured Resilient Power Installations page.

Banner photo courtesy Resonant Energy