Monday, July 15, 2024

Centering Equity in Information Assortment: CEG’s Resilient Power Funding Applications


This weblog is a part of a collection celebrating 10 years of the Clean Energy Group’s Technical Assistance Fund, which gives small grants to community-serving organizations in search of sustainable energy. To be taught extra about TAF and browse the opposite blogs within the collection, click on right here.

This 12 months marks 10 years because the Clean Energy Group established its small grant applications, the Technical Assistance Fund (TAF) and Resilient Power Leadership Initiative (RPLI), to help the event of unpolluted, sustainable electrical energy applied sciences, similar to photo voltaic mixed with power storage, in traditionally marginalized communities. Over the previous decade, TAF and RPLI have developed in response to the altering financial and coverage panorama, in addition to the rising demand for dependable, renewable, and native clear power assets. During that point, CEG additionally prioritized program outreach to crucial service suppliers and grassroots organizations serving communities most susceptible to extreme climate and energy outages, which regularly have capability constraints that make making use of to offer applications which might be prohibited. The result’s a bigger, extra inclusive program. In TAF’s first 12 months, for instance, CEG distributed 5 awards. In 2023, CEG distributed 49 awards (see maps under). CEG’s information assortment strategies have developed as this system has developed, however our dedication to fairness, and guaranteeing we meet our equity-specific objectives, is the driving pressure behind the metrics. which we observe.

CEG’s Commitment to Equity

TAF addresses a crucial useful resource hole in renewable power improvement: funding for pre-development evaluation of renewable power methods – photo voltaic coupled with battery storage (photo voltaic+storage ) – for organizations serving traditionally marginalized communities, together with low-income communities, environmental justice communities, and communities of colour. These communities are burdened by the worst impacts of local weather change, together with elevated flooding, dangerously excessive warmth, and power well being issues as a result of air pollution, and are additionally extra more likely to expertise extra frequent and extended energy outages. Solar+storage can play an necessary function in offering clear, dependable backup energy to amenities that may act as resiliency hubs throughout these outages.

However, community-serving establishments in these areas typically have restricted employees capability to use for funding or administer massive grants, so TAF is designed as a small grant program. with low boundaries to entry and minimal reporting necessities. For this motive, the preliminary consumption survey was shortened to twenty simple questions that didn’t require particular data to finish, such because the deal with of the ability, the variety of residents or neighborhood members served by the ability, and the baseline . data degree of photo voltaic+storage candidates has. This final query will assist the CEG perceive what assets or help will likely be discovered most helpful to the awardee whereas going by the event course of.

Prioritizing Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-Led Organizations.

In 2020, CEG made a dedication to present 50 p.c of TAF grants and 100% of RPLI grants to Black, Indigenous, and folks of colour (BIPOC)-led organizations. In the years previous to this dedication (2014-2019), solely 25 p.c of TAFs had been awarded to BIPOC-led organizations. By 2023, this quantity will enhance to 41 p.c. So far in 2024, 67 p.c of the funds given have been to organizations led by BIPOC, making this the primary 12 months we will meet or exceed our objective. Tracking this quantity over time performs an necessary function in holding CEG accountable to our dedication. In years when CEG falls wanting assembly the 50 p.c determine, the TAF staff recalibrates, selling the event of recent partnerships with Tribal Nations, minority-owned engineers, and different establishments that assist convey TAF to populations that will not have heard. in this system. Importantly, CEG can’t decide whether or not a company is led by BIPOC. Potential awardees had been requested in the event that they thought of their group to be BIPOC-led within the consumption survey.

This monitoring additionally turned invaluable as curiosity in TAF grew. This 12 months is the primary time that CEG doesn’t have sufficient funds to cowl the variety of awards requested. To guarantee funding for BIPOC companions, CEG allocates 50 p.c of obtainable funds for BIPOC-led organizations, a lot of which have restricted employees capability to shortly apply for grants. funding, to make sure these organizations will not be unwittingly penalized when making use of for a TAF later within the 12 months.

Exit Surveys and Post-TAF Tracking

Because TAF awards cowl the pre-development section of a photo voltaic+storage undertaking, most of CEG’s relationship with the awardee group, and the next monitoring of undertaking metrics, happens after the preliminary feasibility evaluation. Awardees are requested to finish a brief exit survey after finishing a feasibility evaluation. This survey is meant to discover awardees’ experiences with CEG and third-party engineering, in addition to how awardees’ understanding of photo voltaic+storage has been affected by going by the TAF course of.

Beyond this preliminary exit survey nonetheless, CEG continues to observe awardees all through the undertaking’s improvement cycle. Some photo voltaic+storage tasks can take years to finish, so these relationships can present invaluable information on obstacles to undertaking progress, or how main coverage adjustments, such because the ITC and Low-Income Communities Bonus Credits, could have an effect on undertaking outcomes. Because tasks can take a very long time to develop, this information is usually tougher to gather – factors of contact with awardee organizations could also be steady, or the undertaking could also be shelved by a number of years till the group has extra capability to keep up photo voltaic+storage.

As TAF progressed over time, streamlining program processes to measure these impacts post-TAF, particularly when the undertaking was lastly put in, turned a precedence for the CEG staff. Collecting information at this degree has been invaluable for understanding the affect of TAF: A current survey of TAF recipients discovered that awardees had been in a position to make use of their assessments to activate almost $18 million in exterior capital to put in 32 tasks with a complete of 6 megawatts of photo voltaic capability and 4 megawatt-hours of battery storage capability.

Looking forward

The want for early-stage, accessible funding like TAF will solely proceed to develop as low-income communities and communities of colour look to reap the benefits of bigger federal grant alternatives like Solar for All and the Environmental and Climate Justice Community Change Grants. Fortunately, the necessity for TA help similar to TAF is prioritized in these massive undertaking improvement applications. For instance, CEG, together with its companions within the Community Power Coalition, is one in every of 60 chosen by Solar for All. The Community Power Coalition, led by Inclusive Prosperity Capital (IPC), is targeted on rising the capability and deployment of mission-driven, community-based photo voltaic builders. In this capability, CEG will present technical help associated to the deployment of neighborhood photo voltaic paired with battery storage, which depends on a lot of the identical infrastructure we developed for TAF. Maintaining strong information assortment and monitoring is a vital device in guaranteeing that we preserve our dedication to serving the poorest organizations and communities at the same time as we scale this program.

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