BlocPower Partnership & Investing Opportunities

Author: BlocPower Staff        Published: 5/4/2021                BlocPower

BlocPower partners with city, state and federal governments, energy utility companies, tech companies, corporations, nonprofits, and financial institutions to address issues at the intersection of climate change, workforce + diverse supplier development, economic impact, health, and environmental justice.

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Carbon Emissions Reduction

BlocPower’s electrification, energy efficiency retrofits, and solar upgrades in buildings all decrease carbon emissions reductions, helping organizations achieve targets necessary for addressing climate change. Enabled by BlocPower software, our turnkey project design, financing and construction management gives building owners access to high-value services, appliances and outcomes with no initial investment.

Environmental Justice

BlocPower partners with organizations to address the environmental justice needs of communities, employees, vendors and other stakeholders. Using BlocPower machine learning software and custom financial products, BlocPower enables organizations to implement targeted environmental justice programming and provide focused impact to benefit vulnerable communities.

Carbon Credits

Using third-party verification and blockchain technology, BlocPower creates and offers environmentally just carbon offsets for building electrification and renewable and energy efficiency retrofit projects.

Improved Indoor Air Quality

Energy efficiency and building electrification improve indoor air quality, which measurably improves respiratory and overall health outcomes for building residents. BlocPower projects reduce asthma attacks, remove mold, remove lead and asbestos, resulting in reduced health impact in underserved buildings. In California, we are helping buildings to have clean backup power to provide electricity to medical devices during blackouts.

Community Connectivity and Resilience

Creating community solar microgrids enhance neighborhood resilience, reduce usage burdens on the grid and save residents money on their utility bills. Community Wifi bridges the digital divide that prevents LMI communities and communities of color from accessing the internet for education, work, or health needs.

Impact Investing

Environmental Justice Impact Green Bonds, available to institutional investors and corporations, are used to finance the upfront costs of BlocPower projects in vulnerable communities in need of environmental justice.

Workforce Development

BlocPower provides workforce development initiatives and training in local underserved communities to develop diverse, local, woman, veteran, and minority owned businesses, and train and hire vulnerable workers to begin green construction and project management careers. Local governments, corporations, and communities receive benefits of a robust, diverse, modern, tech enabled workforce.

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Secretary Granholm Visits Howard University in First In-Person Event to Discuss Workplace Diversity and Inclusive Research Opportunities

Author: DOE Staff          Published: 5/4/2021                    U.S. DOE

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Holds Roundtable at Howard Universtiy

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, at a roundtable with innovation leaders at Howard University, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm highlighted the American Jobs Plan’s investments to bolster science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programs at historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and other minority serving institutions (MSIs). Watch a recording of the event HERE.

If we don’t invest in STEM students and faculty from diverse backgrounds, “We are missing out on untapped talent … leav[ing] us with narrower innovation, and insufficient solutions to the problems we face,” Secretary Granholm said. “We simply can’t abide blind spots like this—particularly as we work towards our transition to clean energy…an inclusive transition, offering benefits to every community.”

Increasing diversity in STEM fields is a key priority for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the Biden-Harris Administration. As Secretary Granholm noted, “We know that who’s at the table matters.”

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan calls for a dedicated reserve of $20 billion in upgrading research infrastructure in laboratories at HBCUs and other MSIs, including the creation of a new HBCU-affiliated National Lab focused on climate. The plan also invests $10 billion in research and development at HBCUs and other MSIs and $15 billion to create up to 200 centers of excellence that serve as research incubators at HBCUs.

Granholm also announced $17.3 million in DOE funding to support college internships, research projects and opportunities, and to bolster investment in underrepresented HBCUs and MSIs.

In The News

Washington Post | Energy Department awards $17.3 million in research funding, targets students of color

Biden’s proposal earmarks $40 billion to modernize laboratories throughout the country, a measure designed to increase research and development. Half of those dollars would be directed to historically Black schools and minority-serving institutions and help create a new national lab focused on climate change and affiliated with an HBCU, according to the White House.

For universities such as Howard, the proposal would provide the resources students need, professors said.

“Students need to have access to the latest and greatest of technologies so they can have hands-on training so that when they go into these corporations they are ready to go from day one,” said Quinton Williams, chair of Howard’s physics and astronomy department.

E&E News | Granholm’s first visit outside the office? Howard University

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm made her first outside-the-agency stop yesterday, pitching President Biden’s $2.2 trillion infrastructure plan at Howard University — one of the historically Black colleges and universities that could benefit from its passage.

Granholm told a roundtable that Biden’s plan calls for $40 billion to upgrade research infrastructure in laboratories across the country, with half of the money reserved for historically Black colleges and universities and other minority-serving institutions. Biden’s proposal also calls for a new Department of Energy national lab focused on the climate that would be affiliated with a historically Black school.

“This administration is committed to making the transition to clean energy an inclusive transition, offering benefits to every community because not every community has benefited,” said Secretary Granholm, noting that many communities of color have been disproportionately harmed by pollution. “We want to make sure that voices are at the table that are representative of the communities who can benefit from this transition.”

UPI | PHOTOS: Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Holds Roundtable at Howard University



U.S. Department of Energy Launches Initiatives to Accelerate Solar Deployment in Underserved Communities

Author: Staff Solar Energy Technologies Office   Published: 5/3/2021       SETO

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

New Efforts Include $15.5 Million to Tackle Barriers to Solar Deployment, Increased Focus on Expanding Clean Energy Access to Low- and Moderate-Income Communities and Fostering a Diverse Solar Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced a slate of new efforts, including $15.5 million in new funding, to support solar energy deployment in underserved communities and build a diverse, skilled workforce. These initiatives will help families and businesses that have been left behind in the clean energy transition to reap the benefits of cheaper power and access to highly-skilled jobs. Together, these efforts reflect the Biden Administration’s commitment to launching every American worker and community into a greener future.

Today at 11:00am ET, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm will participate in a virtual conversation with DOE leaders about how these announcements will advance the agency’s justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) goals. Watch Live.

“Solar energy is one of the fastest, easiest, and cheapest paths to President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035—and now, it’s time to double down on our efforts to make those benefits available to communities in every pocket of the country,” said Secretary Granholm. “These new initiatives and funding will jumpstart a long-overdue conversation around how DOE can leverage solar energy’s explosive growth to create solutions and jobs that lift up Americans who have been left behind, and create a future filled with JEDI.”

There are nearly 100 gigawatts DC (GW) of solar capacity currently installed across the country, and as much as 500 to 600 GW will be installed over the next 10 years. While DOE has continued to accelerate solar deployment by setting and meeting ambitious cost goals, the “soft costs” associated with non-hardware challenges—like design, siting, permitting, installation, and financing—ultimately contribute to its overall cost to consumers. Increasing equitable access to solar includes driving down these costs, as well as developing business models like community solar that are designed to engage low- and moderate-income households.

DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) will leverage existing technical assistance, community solar, and workforce development programs to tackle these challenges, as well as seek input from a diversity of stakeholders on solutions that address the needs of underserved communities.

Funding Technical Assistance for Underserved Communities

Through two longstanding programs—SolSmart and the Solar Energy Innovation Network—DOE has helped hundreds of cities, counties, states, utilities, and electric system operators tackle barriers to solar deployment, and will now emphasize assistance for underserved communities.

  • Today, DOE announced $10 million in funding for a SolSmart administrator for the next five years, who will update and manage the program to encourage more equitable solar deployment and the adoption of emerging technologies, such as solar + storage. SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance to cities, counties, and regional organizations across the nation—helping them streamline processes that make it faster and easier to deploy solar energy, attract investment, and lower energy costs for families and businesses. To date, SolSmart has helped more than 400 communities in 43 states achieve these goals, and will now expand to focus on rural and low- and moderate-income communities.
  • In addition, DOE will provide $5.5 million in technical assistance through the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN)—a collaborative program that connects utilities, state and local governments, community-based organizations, and system operators to technical experts at DOE’s National Laboratories, who together develop innovative solutions to real-world regional challenges associated with solar energy adoption. This new funding will support Round 3 of SEIN’s research efforts, which will focus on creating new solutions for solar deployment in underserved communities and replicating solutions developed in previous rounds.

Leveraging Benefits of Community Solar Projects

Community solar can expand affordable access to solar to all Americans, by allowing everyone to share in the benefits regardless of whether their homes can support rooftop solar panels. Community solar projects are on the rise and span 39 states and the District of Columbia, but the bulk are in just four states and represent about 4% of solar capacity. In 2019, DOE launched the National Community Solar Partnership—a $15 million initiative with over 500 partners and a goal to expand affordable community solar access to every U.S. household by 2025. To date, the Partnership has provided technical assistance to over 100 members.

  • In a new effort to rapidly and equitably deploy community solar, DOE today announced the launch of an Equitable Access to Community-Based Solar Request for Information (RFI). In addition to the RFI, DOE will convene a series of meetings with environmental justice organizations, state and local governments, solar developers, and other stakeholders to solicit feedback on how these projects can best address energy challenges in underserved communities. This feedback will shape DOE’s efforts to engage partners, provide useful resources, and design funding opportunities that help scale up community solar in every pocket of the country.

Increasing Workforce Diversity and Skills Training

A diverse, skilled, and supported solar workforce is essential for developing clean energy solutions that benefit all Americans. Yet today, one-third of U.S. solar companies have reported difficulty in hiring qualified workers.

  • To tackle these challenges, DOE today announced the launch of a workforce RFI to gather information on how best to frame future workforce funding that ensures new jobs offer good wages, benefits, and worker protections. DOE will also host a series of meetings and solicit feedback from labor unions and the solar industry on its plans to provide targeted training efforts.

For more information about SETO and its research priorities around soft costs, click HERE.

For details on upcoming information sessions about the announced funding opportunities: