National Community Solar Partnership

Author: Solar Energy Technologies Office             Published: 8/4/2020                     SETO

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) is hiring a full-time management and program analyst to serve as the National Community Solar Partnership program lead.This role is a federal supervisory position at the GS-14 level.

Responsibilities include managing complex, multi-partner technical assistance programs; coordinating a team of solar energy technical experts to plan and carry out these programs; developing concepts for new programs and funding mechanisms aimed at reducing the non-hardware, or soft, costs of solar; and more.

Apply by August 12.

National Community Solar Partnership

The National Community Solar Partnership™ (NCSP) is a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025. Partners leverage peer networks and technical assistance resources to set goals and work to overcome persistent barriers to expanding community solar access to underserved communities. DOE announced the program on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.


The three goals of the partnership are:

  • Make community solar accessible to every U.S. household
  • Ensure community solar is affordable for every U.S. household
  • Enable communities to realize supplementary benefits and other value streams from community solar installations


To meet these goals, NCSP provides an array of national and local stakeholders — state, local, and tribal governments, utilities, businesses, nonprofit organizations, and others — the tools and information they need to design and implement successful community solar models. The partnership will provide these through three major activities:

  • Network Infrastructure: Partners have access to an online community platform, virtual and in-person meetings, webinars and other tools to engage with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) staff and each other.
  • Technical Assistance: Partners have access to technical assistance resources from DOE, its National Laboratories, and independent third-party subject-matter experts for support on unique local challenges.
  • Collaboration: Structured groups of partners, called collaboratives, form around specific goals to address common barriers to solar adoption by learning from each other and sharing resources.

List of Partners

Partners as of July 9, 2020 (click to expand)

Upcoming Webinars

There are currently no upcoming webinars.

Technical Assistance

The application deadline for the first round of Technical Assistance Applications was Friday, May 29, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. ET and is now closed. To apply for future technical assistance opportunities, you must first join the partnership by registering with the community platform. Application instructions can be found on the community platform, and more details about the opportunity can be found in the technical assistance webinar slide deck.


Collaboratives are a group of similar organizations working to advance community solar in a particular market segment. Collaborative members set community solar goals, learn from their peers, and receive technical assistance over two years as they work to achieve their goals and create replicable solutions. DOE will launch new collaboratives in the future based on NCSP partner interest.


The Municipal Utility Collaborative seeks to demonstrate replicable models for solar energy deployment that offer low or no-fee subscriptions and result in energy bill savings for low-income residents. Download the Municipal Utility Collaborative fact sheet.

Members: Austin Energ, BrightRidge, City of Colton Electric Utility, Seattle City Light, Snohomish County Public Utility District Number One, Town of Marblehead Municipal Light Department


The Multifamily Affordable Housing Collaborative seeks to demonstrate replicable models for solar energy deployment that reduce resident’s monthly electric utility bills by at least 10 percent. Download the Multifamily Affordable Housing Collaborative fact sheet.

Members: Boulder Housing Partners, City of Boulder, Denver Housing Authority, Fifth Avenue Committee Solar, Meriden Housing Authority, National Church Residences, New York City Housing Authority, Preservation of Affordable Housing, Seattle Housing Authority, Wesley Living

NCSP Resources



The U.S. Department of Energy broadly defines community solar to include any solar project or purchasing program, within a geographic area, in which the benefits flow to multiple participants (individuals, businesses, nonprofits, etc.). According to analysis by the DOE National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), nearly 50% of households and businesses are unable to host rooftop solar systems. Expanding access to community solar options helps connect more Americans with clean energy for the first time. Community solar allows renters, tenants, and residents to access solar energy regardless of where they live or the suitability of their rooftop. This allows more people to offset monthly energy bills while increasing their community’s resiliency, enhancing workforce opportunities, and spurring economic development.


Certain underserved markets, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) populations, nonprofit organizations, and other community-serving entities, such as municipal governments, still face significant barriers to affordable solar deployment. A report from NREL that analyzed the recently competed Solar in Your Community Challenge identified three main takeaways from the challenge:

  • Clearly understand how federal, state, and local policies enable local solar projects.
  • Build durable and long-term partnerships with community members and solar stakeholders.
  • Develop a creative portfolio of financing solutions for small- and medium-size solar projects.

NCSP builds on the successes of the Solar in Your Community Challenge to support the replication of new and existing community solar models by partnering with diverse stakeholders across the country that are interested in expanding affordable access to solar. Learn more about the origins of NCSP here.

SETO Community Solar Timeline

Additional Resources

Solar in Your Community Challenge – This webpage contains resources assembled during the Solar in Your Community Challenge on issues like project development, customer acquisition, financing, permitting and interconnection, system design, and low- and moderate-income participation.

Community Solar – This webpage has the latest information from NREL about community solar, including links to recent reports.

Up to the Challenge: Communities Deploy Solar in Underserved Markets – This NREL report describes the Solar in Your Community Challenge and the top technical challenges the participating teams faced, and outlines some key takeaways.

Solar For All Data Explorer – This is a web application from NREL to help LMI rooftop solar technical potential at the tract level, including overlays for opportunity zones and other geospatial datasets.

Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA) – The U.S. Department of Energy’s CELICA toolkit provides an overview of tools, resources, and models for developing low-income energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including community solar. The information is based on CELICA’s two-year partnership with over 30 stakeholders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.

Low-income Energy Affordability Data (LEAD) Tool – This is a web application, developed by the U.S. Department of Energy, to help make data-driven decisions on energy goals and program planning by improving understanding LMI household energy characteristics.

Solar Savings to Investment Ratio (SIR) – This is a simple comparison spreadsheet tool, developed by NREL, that facilitates the calculation of the Savings to Investment Ratio, a metric used to measure the ability of a technology to recover the investment costs through savings achieved from customer utility-bill cost reduction.

Design and Implementation of Community Solar Programs for Low- and Moderate-Income Customers – This report draws on the experience of LMI solar developers and state LMI solar programs to gain insights into the successes and barriers of deploying community solar programs.

Modeling the Cost of LMI Community Solar Participation: Preliminary Results – This report seeks to understand the level of incentives needed to drive LMI customer participation in community solar.

Low-Income Community Solar: Utility Return Considerations for Electric Cooperatives – This report identifies project structures that make low-income community solar projects more cost-effective, replicable, and scalable for electric cooperative and municipal utilities.

Focusing the Sun: State Considerations for Designing Community Solar Policy – This report summarizes outcomes from the NCSP State Best Practices working group by identifying key differences in state policies that enable community solar and illustrating how various policy design approaches may impact the market.

Dems roll out sweeping environmental justice bill

Author:  Nick Sobczky             Published 2/27/2020            E&E News


Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Don McEachin (D-Va.). Photo credit: Natural Resources Committee/Facebook

House Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), flanked by activists, introduced environmental justice legislation this morning.

House Democrats this morning unveiled a long-awaited environmental justice bill, a novel collaborative effort between lawmakers and local groups that have long been ignored on Capitol Hill.

Natural Resources Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.) later today will lead introduction of the “Environmental Justice for All Act,” which would expand the National Environmental Policy Act and slap new fees on oil, gas and coal to fund communities transitioning away from fossil fuel economies.

The legislation faces an uphill battle in Congress this year, but it represents an unusual effort by lawmakers to reach out to communities affected by pollution to pull them into the larger congressional conversation about climate change and the environment.

Grijalva said environmental justice communities have always been an “afterthought” in those policy debates.

“What we wanted to do with this piece of legislation is interject this discussion into the center of the overall discussion about climate change and environmental policy going forward,” he said at a news conference this morning announcing the bill.

Grijalva and McEachin used an online platform called PopVox to allow disparate environmental justice groups around the country to comment on the legislation. During the last 18 months, the lawmakers have also met with hundreds of groups and hosted a daylong environmental justice summit on Capitol Hill.

The outreach meant that environmental justice organizations were no longer an afterthought, said Kim Gaddy, an environmental justice organizer with Clean Water Action in New Jersey.

“They brought us in early,” she said.

Grijalva said that when he introduced a separate environmental justice bill a few years ago, it garnered virtually no outside support because he hadn’t talked to communities.

“I wondered, why aren’t people buying into this wonderful idea?” Grijalva said. “Part arrogance and part ignorance.”

This time, he said, “the roles were reversed,” and environmental justice groups led the drafting process.

The bill would require federal agencies to offer greater input to environmental justice communities during the NEPA permitting process and mandate consideration of cumulative impacts under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

It would also codify the 1994 executive order that set up the federal government’s existing environmental justice efforts and amend the Civil Rights Act to ban discrimination based on uneven environmental impacts.

All combined, this virtually ensures the measure has no chance of going anywhere in the GOP-controlled Senate, at a time when the Republican president is attempting to scale back NEPA reviews and expand oil and gas development.

But the bill also crosses several different House jurisdictions, meaning committees like Energy and Commerce, Judiciary, and Transportation and Infrastructure would have to mark it up before it comes to the floor.

Grijalva acknowledged that reality but said he had not started talking to the chairs of other committees, besides Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), in any real detail.

He said the Natural Resources panel may take up the legislation “sooner rather than later,” however, and Grijalva noted that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave remarks at the environmental justice summit he held with McEachin last year (E&E Daily, June 27, 2019).

Progressive Caucus co-chairwoman Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) is a co-sponsor of the legislation, and several other supporters also sit on Energy and Commerce, including McEachin and Reps. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Del.) and Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.).

Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.), another Energy and Commerce member who is challenging Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey in a tight Democratic primary race, has attached his name to the bill, as well.

Despite the likely Senate opposition, Grijalva said, “our job first is getting it through the House.”

“I think that would be a victory, because what I think is important is that we set a template for the American people,” he said. “All Americans.”

Oklahoma’s Rapid Medical Cannabis Ramp-Up

Author: Molly McCann, Ed.D., Director of Industry Analytics     Published: 8/2/2020       New Frontier Data

In July, the Oklahoma Medical Marijuana Authority (OMMA) announced its new patient participation numbers, revealing 7.9% of Oklahomans as registered among medical cannabis patients. That rate is more than 2x any other state, and achieved within 24 months of medical legalization.

This blog is the first among a short series to examine lessons learned from the state’s accelerated successes with its legal cannabis programs. This week, the focus is on factors contributing to the rapid growth of its medical market.

Business Licenses – Quick and Accessible

Oklahomans legalized medical cannabis in June 2018 by approving its State Question 788 with 57% of the vote. Sales began 95 days later.

The ballot initiative specified time frames which the state would need to comply with, which influenced the market’s expeditious launch. The text specified that business license applications needed to be available within 30 days of the initiative’s passage, that a regulatory office be open to receive applications within 60 days, and that the state review and rule on applications within 14 days of their receipt. By comparison, most legalized state markets have required their implementation of a cannabis board or committee within a year (or two) to begin drafting initial regulations and determine application criteria, etc. Thus, while the average period for implementation across other state medical markets exceeded three years, Oklahoma’s was operational within three months.

Oklahoma’s medical program was also unique in that the state had no limit on cannabis business licenses. Furthermore, the cost of a license in the Sooner State is $2,500 – a fraction of that assessed in New York (80x more, at $200,000), Maryland (50x, at $125,000), and Illinois (40x, at $100,000), respectively. In Oklahoma, participating businesses are not required to be vertically integrated (significantly lowering the barriers to entry), and municipalities are prohibited from revising zoning laws which would “prevent the opening of a retail marijuana establishment”, both of which have helped create a competitive state market that is quickly becoming saturated.

Note: In Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, and Washington, business license counts include both medical and adult-use type dispensary retail licenses. Oklahoma numbers are current as of July 2020, the other states listed were last updated March 2020.

By Oklahoma’s requirements, at least 75% of members, managers, board members, and owners must be state residents. An August 2019 law (HB 2612, or the “Unity Bill”) clarified that residency be defined as having lived in Oklahoma for at least two years immediately preceding application, or at least five continuous years during the previous 25. However, as of July 22, OMMA suspended its enforcement of that residency requirement (pending a lawsuit which would remove the provision requiring anything more than current residency). If the two-year clause is lifted, Oklahoma’s market may see an influx of businesspeople and investors (including those anticipating adult-use legalization), which would attract additional demand from nearby states without legal cannabis markets of their own.

Patient Participation Made Easy

The speed and flexibility with which State Question 788 allowed both for patients to access the market and for participating doctors to recommend cannabis likewise contributed to the state’s explosive growth in legal demand.

Oklahoma does not require qualifying conditions for medical recommendations, which effectively permits any board-certified physician in good standing to recommend cannabis to a patient for any reason according to “accepted standards a reasonable and prudent physician would follow when recommending or approving any medication.” Given the broad range of conditions for which cannabis has reportedly been therapeutic, the provision allows for high rates of participation among nearly 4 million Oklahomans (the state’s unique characteristics as a medical market will be detailed in a later report among this series).

Another contributing catalyst for Oklahoma’s medical market development came from cannabis businesses’ proactive work increasing patients’ awareness and participation. Since late 2018, registration drives have been organized to register patients having a need for medical cannabis but perhaps unable to afford a full-price doctor’s visit, or others who were unaware how to apply with the state. The events bring in doctors to meet with prospective patients and write low- or no-cost recommendations for those who qualify. Often, volunteers also help prospective patients apply on the OMMA’s online patient application portal. Offering such assistance effectively increases public awareness while lowering barriers to participate, and doubtless has contributed to Oklahoma’s historic rate of patient participation.

Medical cannabis licenses in Oklahoma are valid for two years (unlike most states, which require annual renewals). As with Oklahoma’s business applications, its ballot initiative specified that applications be made available within 30 days of its passage, with submitted applications approved or specifically denied within 14 days.

While licensed out-of-state medical cannabis patients are not granted full reciprocity in Oklahoma, they may apply for a temporary (30-day) license. Last May, Oklahoma’s HB 3228 would have allowed out-of-state residents to apply for a 90-day license, but that was vetoed.

Any further loosening of restrictions for out-of-state residents could have massive implications for the market. In its geographically central location among the lower 48 states, Oklahoma might represent a cannatourism destination for millions of Americans from neighboring and other nearby states lacking legal cannabis markets. With the northern Texas cities of Dallas and Fort Worth, each less than a 90-minute drive from its border, Oklahoma could cater to a combined population of more than 2 million — more than 50% that of the state itself.

Newer markets are coming online faster, having learned from earlier markets

Each legal state market is unique offering lessons to operators and regulators about how various elements affect a market’s performance. Two decades ago, only theories existed about which factors might make for successful legal markets.

Now, there are 34 legal markets (i.e., 33 states plus the District of Columbia), each an experiment to learn from. Aided by those insights, newer markets are generally coming online and ramping up faster while avoiding some early regulatory pitfalls, whether they were product restrictions (in Pennsylvania), hurdles for physician participation (in New York), or exorbitant taxes pricing patients out of the market (in New Jersey).

For its part, Oklahoma has been an example of acting quickly while lowering barriers to entry. Legally mandated, two-week turnaround times on business and patient applications made available just weeks after legalization greatly expedited establishment of foundational elements for the state’s industry. Likewise, affordable and unlimited business licenses – along with no requirements of qualifying conditions – promoted broad participation in the state’s market from both its supply and demand sides. Furthermore, businesses have led coordinated efforts to raise awareness and facilitate access, culminating in arguably the most successful launch of any state medical market yet seen.

The Three Waves of Hemp Fiber Production

Author: Trevor Yahn-Grode    Published: 7/27/2020       New Frontier Data

Cover art

While the potential of the North American hemp fiber industry is massive, many of the most talked-about applications remain years away from becoming practical realities. Currently, the North American fiber market is characterized by a lack of processing facilities, a lack of raw fiber supply, expensive products, dubious access to capital, and a lack of consumer education about hemp’s non-ingestible applications.

Lack of Processing Facilities

Though more are in construction for the next harvest season, there are currently no more than 10 operational hemp fiber decortication facilities in North America. The barriers to erecting a fiber processing facility are significant, with decortication machines alone costing between $900,000-$5 million apiece. Decortication is not the only step in the fiber processing value chain, however. Once decorticated, hurd must be cleaned and sorted, while fiber requires extensive wet processing capabilities which can cost tens of millions of dollars to install.

Furthermore, all of that assumes a sufficient supply of raw hemp to sustain a processing facility. Even a small facility capable of processing 1.5 tons an hour, for example, would annually require no less than 6 million lbs. of stalks to be profitable. Likewise, due to the logistical difficulty of transporting raw hemp stalks, a fiber processor can only afford to use hemp grown within 75-100 miles of their decortication facility. That means that decortication facilities are likelier to spring up only in areas of the country already producing a significant amount of hemp.

Lack of Raw Fiber Supply

Often described as a “chicken-or-egg” situation, the lack of processing facilities is accompanied by a lack of acreage being dedicated to hemp fiber cultivars. While it is possible to process the leftover stalks from CBD or grain production, fiber production is much more economical and viable when utilizing fiber-specific cultivars. This is because fiber cultivars can produce much longer strands of fiber, which are stronger and have more valuable market applications than do short fibers, and because the amount of fiber yielded by these cultivars is significantly higher than either CBD or grain cultivars.

Hemp fiber, while still significantly more profitable than corn or soy farming, pales in comparison to the potential returns of a CBD crop. Farmers are reluctant to risk growing a new crop in an unproven industry without the promises of CBD’s profitability. Until there is a network of established fiber processing facilities which can guarantee prices to farmers, fiber acreage will continue to be insufficient to meet demand.

Price Competitiveness

One of the most important factors currently restricting the Hemp fiber market is its high price relative to synthetic or other natural fibers. Most hemp fiber used in manufacturing in North America currently comes instead from Europe, with the U.S. importing more than 100 million pounds since 2015. Already at a disadvantage because of its relatively small scale, the cost of shipping low-density hemp fiber and hurd across the Atlantic has further eroded hemp’s attractiveness as a raw material. While scaling domestic production will eventually relieve prices, until there is a consistent domestic supply of quality hemp fiber in North America, manufacturers will have little incentive to utilize it in their products.

Access to Capital

Due to the 81-year-long U.S. prohibition of hemp cultivation, all existing hemp fiber processing facilities were decommissioned, and now the entire supply chain must be rebuilt from scratch. Fiber processing facilities require significant amounts of capital to build infrastructure and contract acreage. Full-scale hemp fiber processing plants – such as HempFlax’s Romanian facility – can cost upwards of USD$15 million to get off the ground, and may take years to become profitable.

Amid the COVID-19 global pandemic, where access to capital has become scarcer, the North American hemp fiber market is at serious risk of delayed development. With no track record of sales or credit, fiber processors will need to secure large amounts of capital from private investors to stay solvent.

Considering these facts, the North American hemp fiber market is likely to develop piecemeal as the capacity and quality of the fiber supply chain slowly ramps up. All hemp fiber processing facilities are not created equal, and just because a facility is capable of decorticating hemp into fiber and hurd does not mean that it can achieve the quality standards necessary for more advanced products. As such, different hemp fiber products will become viable at different times as the amount and quality of hemp fiber being processed increases.

Wave 1:

The first wave of hemp fiber products likely to take hold in the market are those which require the least amount of processing. While fiber processors work towards increasing scale and creating new markets for emp fiber, they will need dependable markets to offload the fiber and hurd which they process. The lowest-hanging fruits for those processors include the following products:


  • Animal Bedding
  • Absorbents
  • Animal Litter
  • Mulch & Biochar
  • Wood Substitutes
  • Plastics Additives


One example of a first-wave product that has already gained a foothold in the market is HempWood: A Kentucky-based company manufactures wood substitutes for use in construction and home renovation. Unlike other hemp-based construction materials, HempWood does not require decorticated materials to manufacture, opting instead to press whole, un-decorticated Hemp stalks together with a soy binder to imitate the properties of traditional lumber.

Wave 2:

Products that require superior scale or quality will have to wait until the hemp fiber supply chain becomes more robust. Once a network of decortication facilities has been established, it will become easier for processors to ramp up acreage and focus on achieving quality standards.

Hemp paper products – even if they remain a small specialty niche – will require tens of millions of pounds of hemp annually, especially if pulp and paper giant Georgia Pacific continues with its plans to launch a line of sanitary products made from hemp. Construction materials – such as hempcrete and particleboard – will need time to be thoroughly tested and adopted into building codes, but once are they can be manufactured cheaply and easily almost anywhere. Such products include:


  • Paper & Pulp
  • Hempcrete
  • Particleboard
  • Nonwoven Geotextiles/Matting
  • Nonwoven Insulation
  • Fiberglass substitutes


Since both wave-1 and wave-2 products have such low processing requirements, they are likely to develop into commodity products dominated by regional processors.

Wave 3:

The third wave of hemp fiber products represents a fully matured industry. Those are products which require highly specialized manufacturing processes, along with large, continuously available amounts of hemp fiber to produce. Unlike wave-1 and wave-2 products, wave-3 products are unlikely to develop as commodities, and will instead be dominated by highly specialized, niche companies. Such products include:


  • Industrial and Consumer Textiles
  • Bioplastics
  • Automotive Components
  • Cellulose
  • Supercapacitors


The potential of hemp as a natural fiber remains significant, but due to the economics of fiber processing it is unlikely that the industry will emerge as quickly as has the CBD industry. In order for the hemp fiber supply chain to reach the scale and quality necessary for major manufacturing applications, the industry will need to secure large amounts of capital for infrastructure, develop relationships with established manufacturers to utilize hemp in their products, and find ways to increase the price competitiveness of hemp relative to other natural or synthetic fibers.

Obama Eulogizes Rep. John Lewis as a ‘Founding Father’ of ‘Better America’

Author: Stacy M. Brown:  NNPA Newswire   Published: 7/30/2020     WIWeb


Todays Headlines

A loud shout of cheers went up outside of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, where crowds watching on a big-screen television Thursday rose from their lawn chairs and makeshift seats as former President Barack Obama approached the famous pulpit to deliver the eulogy for Rep. John Lewis.

Inside the historic building where mourners observed social distancing guidelines that prevented an above-capacity gathering, the crowd rose in unison as Obama declared Lewis a “founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America.”

The former president spoke fervently about Lewis’ battle to secure rights — including voting rights — for African Americans and, by extension, all United States citizens.

“Congressman John Lewis devoted his time on this Earth fighting the very attacks on democracy we’re seeing circulate right now,” Obama said.

RELATED: Nation Pays Respects to Civil Rights Icon John Lewis

Though he didn’t call him out by name, Obama blasted President Donald Trump, who has decried mail-in voting and earlier in the day tweeted his desire to postpone the November election because voting by mail would allow for “foreign interference.”

“The fate of this democracy depends on how we use it. It isn’t automatic,” Obama said. “It has to be nurtured, it has to be tended to. We have to work at it. It’s hard.”

Lewis, the venerable lawmaker and civil rights icon who represented Georgia’s 5th Congressional District on Capitol Hill for more than three decades, died July 17 after a long bout with pancreatic cancer. He was 80.

Gospel legend BeBe Winans performed “Good Trouble,” a song he wrote in honor of Lewis, who often referred to his and other civil rights leaders’ activism as “good trouble.”

Sheila Lewis O’Brien, the late congressman’s niece, told the gathering that her uncle enjoyed sharing laughter and love with his family.

“While we knew how important he and his work was to the world, when we were with him, we saw Uncle Robert,” O’Brien said. “We saw the man who enjoyed spending time with his family, ribbing us about days gone by, catching up on family dynamics, enjoying a good meal, and sharing laughter and love.”

Former Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell also spoke at the more than three-hour service.

“They say that the victors write history, and so I declare today that the history of the 20th century as it is written, John Lewis will stand beside Gandhi and King and Mandela as one of the great transformative freedom fighters of humankind,” Campbell said.

All eyes were on Obama.

The former president noted that he owed a great debt to Lewis and the late congressman’s “forceful vision of freedom, calling him Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “greatest disciple.”

Obama called on lawmakers to pass a new federal voting rights act that House Democrats recently renamed in honor of Lewis.

“Someday when we do finish that long journey towards freedom, when we do form a more perfect union — whether it’s years from now or decades or even if it takes another two centuries — John Lewis will be a founding father of that fuller, fairer, better America,” Obama said.

“What a gift John Lewis was. We are all so lucky to have had him walk with us for a while — and show us the way,” he said.

As an honor guard led Lewis’ casket out of the church, those inside paid a final tribute to the civil rights icon by dancing to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” one of the late congressman’s favorite tunes.

Lewis was buried at Southview Cemetery next to his wife of more than 40 years, Lillian.


Small Business Marketing Ideas That Can Make A Difference Today

Author:  Ashish Pate         Published: 1/11/20              Business SMS

Small Business Marketing IdeasIt’s always the small businesses that used to suffer at the wrath of giant corporations that remained market leaders, primarily because of fewer resources and funds. Luckily, times have changed and with the right small business marketing ideas, small business owners can stay competitive.

There are so many corporations that started out small but gained success within a decade due to their creativity – but also because technology enabled them to.

The digital world isn’t as costly as traditional marketing used to be, which means that anyone can start up a business with just an idea.

Still, the biggest reason why small businesses fail remains a lack of capital or funding.

So what differentiates successful startups?

Good management of their time, money and resources.

That is why I have listed down the 3 best small business marketing ideas so that you can fall in the small portion of startup businesses that don’t fail (that’s 10% by the way, because that’s how many startups survive more than 5 years):

#1. Get your business trending

The most important thing you need to do as a small business is to create awareness for your brand.

Once that has been established, it’s just a snowball effect because sales will grow automatically from thereon.

The first part is the hardest, but here’s how you can get through it effectively:

  • Word-of-mouth

At the moment, word of mouth is the most trust rich form of communication and that’s because it flows from consumer to consumer with no business control on it whatsoever.

Statistically speaking, 92% of customers trust product reviews from their friends and family.

Not only that, but 88% of consumers also trust reviews from strangers – and that means online reviews so you need to make sure you keep all your customers happy.

If you use it to your advantage, you can get the ball rolling from here.

Every time a customer makes a purchase from you, politely ask them to refer your brand to their friends and family.

Hand them a card if it’s an in-store experience or just email/text them your business details if it’s an online purchase.

Just make sure you don’t seem too pushy because that can drive customers away just as easily.

  • Guerrilla Marketing

This is it. This is what Guerrilla Marketing is.

It’s when you advertise in such a unique way that it turns heads and remains memorable for people.

In other words, for today’s generation, it’s also something that ‘goes viral’.

This is just another example of how marketing has changed significantly.

Guerrilla marketing is also called street marketing, which brought about its only downside i.e. it was too local because it only reached a certain number of people that lived or worked in that area.

However, nowadays, you just need to create a creative campaign and your customers will make it go viral for you.

It takes one picture and one hashtag to make something viral. Your job is only to create content that is good enough to be shared.

For example, if I saw that Mars truck just cruising along a highway, I would definitely gawk in awe of how realistic it looked and then send a picture to all my friends – who would do the same and, viola! That’s how the campaign became famous.

  • SMS & Email

There have been so many studies on SMS and they all conclude the same thing – around 75% of customers want businesses to contact them via text.

Similarly, email is a great way to let consumers know more about your product or service.

However, you need to keep in mind that both platforms are permission-based, so you’ll have to ask your customers to opt into your campaign in order to send them promotional messages and offers.

Again, only the first part is the hardest.

To get potential customers to subscribe to your campaigns, offer them incentives, for example, ‘Get 20% off on your next order by opting into our campaign!’

Keep growing your SMS and email lists to maximise your customer base and boost sales.

Just make sure you send out interesting messages that keep your subscribers engaged, otherwise, they may even opt-out!

Check out these tips for a great SMS Marketing Campaign.

  • Social Media

Ah, the secret behind every small business’s success.

Social media is a key factor behind the survival of most small businesses.

Here’s what different platforms can do for you:

Facebook has done a lot to create ease of use for companies to conduct business through its app.

With Facebook Messenger, you can interact with employees.

Set up a customer representative team to deal with any queries that your customers may have.

If you respond instantly, not only will you customers appreciate your service, but Facebook will reward you with this badge, prompting more customer interactiveness:

Similarly, you can use the Workplace by Facebook app to interact effectively with your employees.

It’s actually very useful because it’s like a private Facebook app for your business. In other words, it acts like an Intranet.

Today, it has over 3 million paying users, which just goes to show how successful it has been.

Lastly, Facebook Business Manager acts as an analytical tool that helps you track the performance of your Facebook campaigns.

With graphed reports, you can assess the reach of your posts, engagement, click-through rate and much more:

The business Ignite Visibility can calculate their Return on Investment by comparing the amount of money they spent on Facebook ads and the impressions that they were able to gauge from it.

The best part is, it’s absolutely free so it’s a great small business marketing idea that won’t burden you with excessive payments in order to track your marketing campaign’s performance.

Similarly, Google has a number of tools for marketing, but I won’t get into that because it’s a whole other story:


Check out Google’s Top 10 tools that you can use for your business.

#2. Video Marketing

I’ll be talking about this again and again since it’s one of the biggest trends for the upcoming year.

There’s a number of ways through which you can incorporate video content into your marketing strategy:

  • Live videos

The introduction of video content is aimed at maximising interactiveness – and live videos just take that another step forward.

The edge that small businesses have over larger businesses is that they’re more personalised.

That means better communication with a customer – since you have a smaller workforce there are more opportunities for you to directly interact with customers.

Live videos aid you in doing that.

My personal favorite is Tomcat’s ‘Facebook Not Live’ video.

The rodent station company produced absolutely amazing interactive content on Halloween for their viewers.

They marketed the event beforehand, and on the night of Halloween they began a live video where the audience could guess how the rodents would be killed in the comment section:

With a staggering 2.3 million views out of which 21% of viewers participated, Tomcat’s Facebook userbase shot up by 58%.

Later, the company even won the Cyber Lion award for its creative content.

The lesson to be learned here is that all you need is a creative idea that’ll engage your viewers and social media will do its part in making it go viral.

  • YouTube ads

The first thing that viewers do is go right to that ‘Skip ad’ button and get straight to what they want to watch (Okay, that’s what I do but I’m guessing everyone else does that too).

So if you want to place an ad between YouTube videos that viewers actually watch, it has to be:

  1. Short
  2. Interesting

Unless the first 2 seconds of your ad isn’t great, chances are, most of your viewers will skip it.

Marketers recommend that YouTube ads are no longer than 6 seconds.

Here’s one that definitely caught my attention and gave me a good laugh:

Again, the emphasis is on creating an innovative ad that grabs users’ attention.

  • User reviews

79% of consumers say that user generated content influences their purchase decisions.

Instead of posting customer reviews on their business pages, companies are now compiling or reposting customer feedback in videos and that’s way more effective.

Why? Because it’s also more authentic.

Anyone can write customer feedback, and many times, reviews are found to be posted from fake accounts.

With videos, however, you can see the person behind the review. It’s personal, it’s reliable and it’s much more engaging.

#3. Work on your content

You might think, where would I have the time to blog and come up with content when I’m trying to survive in such a competitive market?

Well, online marketing can’t be ignored, and if you don’t create content that is Search Engine Optimised, then how will you have any online presence?

Effective blogging is the foundation of online visibility.

Without that, your website may just as well not exist, because it would rank in the double digit search result pages which no one ever looks through.

The other option would be to pay Google to rank your website on top – but why pay for something when you can get it done for free?

Here’s how you can optimise your website to rank higher:

  1. Create a blog

If you already have a blog, you’ll want to use keywords that your users are likely to search for.

For that, you can check out SEMRush, a tool that’ll come up with the most trending and relevant keywords for your business.

Once you know those, you need to incorporate them correctly.

Using them more frequently at the start of your articles is a trick that’ll get your website to rank higher.

Produce ample amount of content to maximise online visibility, but make sure you also focus on quality and not quantity – because if it isn’t interesting, your users aren’t going to read it and your efforts will be in vain.

  • Optimise your website

There are a number of ways you can do this.

Use clear headings with relevant keywords so that Google bots rank your page higher when consumers search for your product or service.

Similarly, your web pages should load in under 3 seconds, otherwise, most of your users will abandon the site.

Moreover, good web design will also determine how long users stay on the site. If it’s difficult to navigate, they will eventually abandon it – leading to a high bounce rate.

For this purpose, you will definitely need a good web designer, because your goal should be to maximize conversions i.e. the percentage of website visitors that purchase something before they leave the site.

Conclusion to small business marketing ideas

These small business marketing ideas are crucial for your business, especially in the beginning.

Since you need ideas that cost less but are highly effective, go for some of the tools that I’ve mentioned in my hyperlinks, and here are a few more ideas that can help boost growth for local online businesses.

Last but not least, creativity and innovation have always been the leading factor that pushes businesses towards success.

It’s like the secret ingredient without which the recipe wouldn’t taste so great, so make sure you have great ideas, otherwise, good management and planning can only take you so far.

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Wells Fargo Donating $400 million to help Black Owned Businesses

Author: Gigi Dixon        Published:  7/29/2020           Washington Informer


Copy paste link to browser:

Requirement must have CDFI Certification:
 Community Development Financial Institution (CDFICertification is a designation given by the CDFI Fund to specialized organizations that provide financial services in low-income communities and to people who lack access to financing.

Capital Alone Won’t Save Small Businesses

Author: Gigi Dixon               Published: 7/23/2020              Washington Informer

This holiday shopping season support for patronizing Black-owned businesses lags behind small business initiatives as an alternative to Black Friday shopping on the Internet.

It’s no secret that small businesses are struggling under the hardships of the COVID-19 pandemic. But when it comes to small businesses in racially and ethnically diverse neighborhoods, we’re seeing a downturn that grows more concerning every day.

Black-owned small businesses are closing at nearly twice the rate of the industry according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. Even in good times, just over two-thirds of businesses survive for two years and only about half make it to five years.

Gigi Dixon
Gigi Dixon

The impact on our communities is devastating. Why is this happening?

#1: Black-owned businesses are a major economic driver in our economy, so when they suffer, we prolong economic recovery. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Black businesses account for approximately $138 billion in revenue. In addition, they are responsible for jobs and livelihoods for many who live in the communities they serve. We cannot watch businesses continue to close without taking action.

#2: Industries that have been most impacted by COVID-19 restrictions are the industries in which underrepresented groups are most often employed: retail, the restaurant and food sector, and the service industry. Prosperity Now’s report “The Cascading Impact of COVID-19 on Microbusinesses and the U.S. Economy” finds that these industries disproportionately employ women, immigrants and racial and ethnic minorities. For microbusinesses in these industries, 32% are minority-owned. This means that when these businesses disappear, our communities lose key services like small restaurants, food stores, barber shops, auto repair and clothing stores, all of which impact overall quality of life.

#3: Minority-owned small businesses already faced challenges and now it’s compounded. Out of the gate, Black-owned businesses, along with other racially and ethnically diverse owners, have more challenges ahead of them as they stage a comeback. They are often smaller by way of employees, payroll and startup capital, and they may not have established banking relationships. These factors make them much more susceptible to economic downturns, and they will need greater access to capital and innovation to be resilient in this pandemic.

The time is now to accelerate rebuilding our Black-owned small businesses. No single government program can bring about a full recovery. And, capital alone won’t save neighborhood businesses – or the employment they sustain.

We need multiple avenues of capital, coupled with training, technical support, and long-term resiliency planning to help small business owners find ways to pivot their business models and reimagine their products and services so they can meet the needs of an evolving economy.

There’s a role for the nation’s business leaders to play. Examine your supplier diversity and look for ways to increase minority-owned businesses in it. Invest in growing the small business ecosystem for the communities you operate in and beyond.

This month, Wells Fargo launched an industry-leading commitment through the new Open for Business Fund. We are donating all gross processing fees earned from the Paycheck Protection Program — approximately $400 million — to nonprofits focused on supporting small businesses, particularly those owned by racially and ethnically diverse people. It has three areas of focus: capital and payment relief via Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs); technical assistance to help owners pivot in an evolving economy, and long-term recovery and resiliency grants.

The first two grants will allocate $28 million to the Expanding Black Business Credit Initiative (EBBC) and Local Initiatives Development Corporation (LISC), aimed at empowering Black and African American-owned small businesses. EBBC will support the launch of the Black Vision Fund to increase the flow of capital to Black-focused CDFIs for transformational work to close the racial wealth gap in African American communities. LISC will provide grants and low-cost capital to more than 2,800 entrepreneurs with a focus on preventing loss in revenue, sustaining employment, and averting vacancies among vulnerable small business owners in urban and rural markets nationwide. These grants are just the start of the Open for Business Fund, which will distribute roughly $250 million to CDFIs so they can reach small businesses hardest hit by the pandemic.

This program is a step in the right direction, and I hope to see others follow suit. It takes a holistic look at what small business owners need to get back on track. The only way we can accelerate the recovery of our small businesses is by creating many pathways for entrepreneurs to seek the help they need. When we collaborate effectively, we can add employment, increase wealth, and demonstrate entrepreneurial success that will inspire other residents to start businesses.

I hope everyone involved in this crisis – the federal government, corporate America, and our nation’s leaders – will continue to work toward solutions because millions of jobs and entire neighborhoods are depending on it.


Author: Will R. Shirley and Ronald Bethea                                                                           ublished : 7/28/2020

Slide 2

National Association of Blacks in Solar
Initial Organizing Document July 2020


The proposed National Association of Blacks in Solar shall be organized based on the premise
that the Black Community, in every State of the Union, is being left out of major solar policy
decisions that concern the specific needs of the Black community. NABS will be organized to
fill these policy gaps in national, state, and local solar policy development.

Please listen to our 7/29/20 podcast: I  talk with Mr. Will R. Shirley,E.M.Sc. President/CEO Sundial Solar Power Developers, Inc. of Jackson, Mississippi the only African American owned solar company in the state of Mississippi as we talk about our plan of action!

Please copy paste link to here podcast:




Author:       Published:  7/27/2020



ED logo

COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and

Resources for Schools and School Personnel

Some Good News…

Congratulations Livingstone College!

In under two years, Livingstone College has been awarded a total $1 million to rehabilitate the historic Andrew Carnegie Library, located on its Salisbury campus.

The National Park Service announced the first award in August 2018. The second grant award was made this spring, a welcomed announcement during the coronavirus pandemic.

The award was made possible through the Historically Black Colleges and Universities grant program, funded by the Historic Preservation Fund, and administered by the National Park Service, Department of Interior. It is part of $7.7 million in grants to 18 projects in 12 states for the preservation of historic structures on campuses of HBCUs.

More Information

Career Vacancies & Internships

White House Internship Program

The Spring 2021 White House Internship Program Application is Live!

The Spring 2021 White House Internship Program application is live on the White House website, along with more information about the program, eligibility requirements, and a list of upcoming term dates and deadlins. Please share with those who may be interested in applying for the Spring 2021 term, which will run from Wednesday, January 27 to Friday, April 16, 2021.

Students who are interested can apply HERE.

Applications are due no later than Friday, August 28, 2020.  Questions about the White House Internship Program or the application can be directed to


Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is hiring!

We are looking for candidates with diverse backgrounds across multiple cyber specialties, such as incident response, digital forensics, network operations, systems security, IT project management, investment portfolio management, system testing and evaluation, vulnerability assessment and more. End each workday knowing you played a role in protecting the Nation from some of the most emerging and critical threats.

For more information, please view the flyer here:CISA July Hiring Event – Cyber.pdf


U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Vacancy Announcements

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) is sharing links to our lists of career and internship opportunities, along with other information of interest to potential applicants.

Career Vacancies

To view and apply for FWS positions, please click here: FWS Vacancy Announcements. If you have a question about a specific position vacancy, please contact the Human Resources point of contact listed at the bottom of the announcement.  For more information about FWS job opportunities and employee benefits, please visit our FWS Human Resources page.


Students interested in wildlife conservation and stewardship are encouraged to apply for our paid internships through our partnership organizations. Opportunities with FWS and other conservation agencies throughout the country can be found on the following partner’s websites:

*You will need to use the agency filter to see our internships offered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is Hiring

The Department of Homeland Security’s compelling mission draws candidates seeking to join a team that makes a difference in the lives of their fellow citizens. The threats and challenges facing the Department and the Nation are complex and constantly evolving. Now more than ever, DHS must recruit, develop, and retain a talented and diverse workforce.

DHS is seeking hundreds of qualified individuals to fill critical positions in cybersecurity, information technology, intelligence analysis, law enforcement, travel security, and emergency prevention, response, and management. We will also be filling other critical positions to include business operations, mission support, and more.

As part of our hiring efforts, we will host a series of webinars to provide information on the Department’s mission, DHS career opportunities, special hiring authorities, effective resume writing, and how to create a profile on USAJOBS.


Appalachian Regional Commission

Request for Proposals: Research on Agriculture and Local Food Activity in the Appalachian Region

The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) invites proposals from qualified researchers and consultants to examine agriculture and local food activity in the Appalachian Region (Region) using both quantitative and qualitative analysis. The main purposes of the research are to (1) provide a comprehensive quantitative overview of agricultural and local food activity throughout the Region, including changes over recent years, (2) identify best practices and promising models from across Appalachia, as well as elsewhere in the country, that support the development of local food systems and help farms increase revenues, and (3) identify emerging opportunities in agriculture throughout the Region, including types of crops and products as well as strategic and technological innovations. Researchers should consider the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on local food systems and agricultural activity throughout the Region, as well as the ways in which these impacts may bring about long-lasting changes to these areas.

The selected contractor will work closely with ARC to shape this effort over the course of a twelve-month period beginning October 1, 2020 and concluding September 30, 2021. Proposals will be evaluated on contractors’ qualifications, expertise, track record, work samples, and cost-effectiveness.

ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. Learn More

Proposals are due by 12:00 p.m. EDT on August 19, 2020. Download the RFP

National and Federal Opportunities


HBCU Request for Information Issued by Frederick National Laboratory [FFRDC]

Attention Historically Black Colleges & Universities:

The Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNL) sponsored by the National Cancer Institute has issued a Request For Information to assess the general capabilities of HBCUs and Minority Serving Institutions (MI) that align with the mission of the FNL.

Additional Information

The National Institutes of Health Path to Excellence & Innovation program strongly encourages all HBCUs with biomedical research capabilities to respond.

For assistance drafting a capabilities statement, please contact


U.S. Department of Agriculture

Unconscious Bias Training

This presentation, “Eliminating Barriers in Recruitment and Hiring,” addressed equity initiatives, accountability, and awareness about holding unconscious beliefs regarding social stereotypes. Opening remarks are led by Dr. Karlease Kelly, Chief Learning Officer in USDA’s Office of Human Resources Management, followed by a panel presentation with leaders in government and private industry.

View the training


U.S. Office of Personnel Management


If you or someone you know is interested in working for the federal government, then the following webinars will be of interest. All sessions are free. However, they are limited to 1,500 participants each.   All times are Eastern.

Writing Your Federal Resume

Interested in a Federal Government job and learning from the experts? The staff of the Recruitment Policy and Outreach (RPO) division at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will present an in-depth webinar that provides attendees with the tips and tools needed to write a competitive Federal resume.

August 10, 2020, 11:00 a.m.                      REGISTER

August 27, 2020, 3:00 p.m.                        REGISTER

September 15, 2020, 11:00 a.m.               REGISTER

Navigating USAJOBS – Finding and Applying for Federal Jobs

Join the staff of the Recruitment Policy and Outreach (RPO) division of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for an in-depth webinar that provides a step-by-step process for navigating USAJOBS. We cover job searching, creating your account/profile, reviewing Job Opportunity Announcements, applying, and application status.

August 5, 2020, 4:00 p.m.                          REGISTER

August 26, 2020, 2:00 p.m.                        REGISTER

September 9, 2020, 11:00 a.m.                  REGISTER


Join the staff of the Recruitment Policy and Outreach (RPO) division of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for an in-depth webinar on the Federal Government interview process. It explains the types of interviews, delivery methods, common questions, responding using the S.T.A.R. (Situation/Task, Action, Result) method and preparing for an interview.

August 25, 2020, 11:00 a.m.                      REGISTER

September 17, 2020, 3:00 p.m.                 REGISTER

September 30, 2020, 1:00 p.m.                 REGISTER

OMB logo

Office of Management and Budget

Buying for America

On July 20, 2020, the Acting Director for the Office of Management and Budget released the “Buying for America” memorandum.  This memo:

  • highlights the economic power of our Federal procurement system,
  • describes the smart contracting in the fourth quarter needed to boost the economic recovery,
  • calls upon agencies to take full advantage of acquisition flexibilities and innovative tools,
  • and calls for agencies to leverage small businesses, the AbilityOne Program, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) so that all Americans can participate in recovery efforts.

Through smart buying for America, we will deliver the services our citizens need more rapidly while strengthening our nation’s economic recovery from the effects of the pandemic.  View this memo


American Association for the Advancement of Science

Supporting Inclusive Innovation Ecosystems

In today’s innovation economy, the ability to apply entrepreneurial thinking and an invention mindset is critical in addressing the challenges that impact communities around the world.  As we look at the shifting demographics in the country we must be intentional about ensuring that innovation ecosystems are inclusive of all stakeholders.  Through this project, we support initiatives focused on catalyzing and sustaining systemic shifts in policy leading to positive social impacts and transformations in institutions, organizations, and communities.

More information

Morgan State Engineering Host GeoAg Bio-Products Panel 7/29

The Morgan State University School of Engineering Center for Sustainable Infrastructure Development, Smart Innovation, and Resilient Engineering Research is hosting the Theoretical Geological Agriculture Engineering Summer Discussion Series (Lunch & Learn) on Wednesdays in July from 11am to 1pm.  This discussion series is part of a new engineering research thrust into Geological Agriculture Engineering at Morgan State’s School of Engineering.

On Wednesday July 29, 2020 we will focus on Theoretical GeoAg Bioproducts Engineering, discussing GeoAg plant chemistry innovation and related by-products with special guest panelists from 3M, Clark Atlanta University and Tennessee State University.

Geological Agriculture (GeoAg) is the study and application of growing plants in rocks indoors and outdoors permanently without the use of soils and fertilizers.  The collective of professors at Morgan State University and other institutions engaged in GeoAg research are referred to as the Academic Association of Geological Agriculture Research (AAGAR).

Morgan GeoAg Flyer

MSU Theoretical GeoAg Bioproducts Engineering Agenda

11am to 12noon – GeoAg and Plant Products with GeoAg Founder Richard C. Campbell

12noon to 1pm – Theoretical GeoAg Bioproducts Engineering Panel

Theoretical GeoAg Bioproducts Engineering Panelists

Mr. Herman Beck, Senior Industrial Customer Specialist, 3M Safety and Industrial Business Group

Dr. Oludare Owolabi, Director of Center of Sustainable Infrastructure Development, Smart Innovation and Resilient Engineering Research – Morgan State University

Dr. Jiangnan Peng, Assistant Professor, Departments of Chemistry and Biology – Morgan State University

Mr. Donald Hylton, Senior Research Scientist, Department of Chemistry – Clark Atlanta University

Dr. Carollyn Boykins-Winrow, Professor of Animal Science  – Tennessee State University

RSVP Here 



U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

In response to the WHI-HBCU Competitiveness Strategy, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is making HBCU participation in its funding opportunities a priority.  HUD has incorporated preference points for HBCUs and for organizations partnering with HBCUs into many of its funding opportunity notices.

As of July 21, 2020, 14 fiscal year 2020 notices offering preference points have been posted.  The department’s funding opportunities are posted HERE . They are also posted to


U.S. Department of Agriculture

USDA Announces $15 Million in Funding Opportunities to Support Socially Disadvantaged and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2020 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced approximately $15 million in available funding to help socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers own and operate successful farms. Funding is made through the USDA’s Outreach and Assistance for Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers and Veteran Farmers and Ranchers Program (also known as the 2501 Program). The program is administered by the USDA Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement (OPPE).

“Socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers deserve equal access to USDA programs and services,” said Mike Beatty, director of the USDA Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement. “2501 grants go a long way in fulfilling our mission to increase awareness of and ensure equitable participation in our programs. This can lead to more sustainable farming and ranching operations.”

For 30 years, the 2501 Program has helped reach socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers who have experienced barriers to service due to racial or ethnic prejudice. The 2014 Farm Bill expanded the program to veteran farmers and ranchers. The 2018 Farm Bill increased mandatory funding for the program through fiscal year 2023. With 2501 program grants, nonprofits, institutions of higher education and Indian Tribes can support socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers through education, training, farming demonstrations, and conferences on farming and agri-business, and by increasing access to USDA’s programs and services.

Since 1994, 484 grants totaling more than $119 million have been awarded. Among recent FY 2019 grantees, Developing Innovation in Navajo Education, Inc. was awarded funds to improve the operations and profitability of Arizona’s Navajo socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers, and increase the local production and consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy food. The Mississippi Association of Cooperatives helped socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers and youth own and operate viable agricultural enterprises through an educational outreach program on farm management practices, financial management, and marketing.

Eligible 2501 program applicants include not-for-profit organizations, community-based organizations, and a range of higher education institutions serving African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, Hispanic, Asian, and Pacific Islander communities.

The deadline for applications is August 26, 2020. See the request for applications for full details.

The Office of Partnerships and Public Engagement will host an upcoming teleconference during the open period of this announcement, and more sessions may be added. No registration is required to participate.

  • July 28, 2020, 2 p.m. EDT
  • Telephone Number: (877) 692-8955
  • Passcode: 6433267USDA’

OMH logo

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health

FY 2020 Funding Opportunity Announcement

The Office of Minority Health (OMH) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services administers grant programs to support projects that implement innovative models to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

OMH has released the following funding opportunity announcements for which applications are now being accepted.

Announcement Number: MP-CPI-20-003 Opportunity Title: Reducing Cardiac Arrest Disparities Through Data Registries Initiative  Award Ceiling: $70,000 Award Floor: $50,000 Estimated Total: $250,000 Application Due Date: August 17, 2020, 6:00 PM ET  The Reducing Cardiac Arrest Disparities Through Data Registries Initiative supports demonstration projects to show whether participation in an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) registry using standard data collection tools and data infrastructure supports the: (1) identification of racial and ethnic minority and/or disadvantaged populations experiencing cardiac arrest; and (2) implementation of evidence-informed interventions to improve cardiac arrest survival rates.

Click on the following link to access the funding opportunity announcement.

A technical assistance webinar for applicants will be held on July 22, 2020 from 4-5pm ET. Click on the following link to register for the webinar.

Announcement Number: MP-CPI-20-004 Opportunity Title: Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Data Collection Platform  Award Ceiling: $1,000,000 Award Floor: $750,000 Estimated Total: $1,000,000 Application Due Date: August 18, 2020, 6:00 PM ET 

The Sickle Cell Disease Clinical Data Collection Platform initiative supports a demonstration project to determine whether a standardized clinical data collection platform, shared across medical centers and other healthcare facilities, can serve as a central repository for analyzing data from large patient cohorts, recruiting patients for clinical trials, assess adherence to evidence-based clinical guidelines, and identifying new areas for research. The award will help develop and implement a Sickle Cell Disease clinical data collection platform and to create and manage a collaborative learning community of participating clinical care teams and patient/family members to pilot utilization of the shared data collection platform.

Click on the following link to access the funding opportunity announcement.

A technical assistance webinar for applicants will be held on July 21, 2020 from 3-4pm ET. Click on the following link to register for the webinar.

Announcement Number: MP-CPI-20-005 Opportunity Title: Community-based Approaches to Strengthening Economic Supports for Working Families Award Ceiling: $450,000 Award Floor: $300,000 Estimated Total: $2,000,000 Application Due Date: August 17, 2020, 6:00 PM ET 

The Community-based Approaches to Strengthening Economic Supports for Working Families initiative will serve low-income working families disproportionately at risk for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), including racial and ethnic minority families. This initiative seeks to determine whether implementation of earned income tax credit (EITC) outreach and education activities in communities at higher risk for ACEs can result in (1) increased EITC receipt and (2) changes in risk and/or protective factors for ACEs. OMH expects projects funded under this initiative to: (1) establish multi-sectoral partnerships to support EITC outreach and education activities in communities at higher risk for ACEs; (2) plan and implement EITC outreach and education activities in communities at higher risk for ACEs; (3) develop and implement a process and outcome evaluation plan; (4) communicate and disseminate findings, successes and lessons learned; and (5) plan for sustainability of successful interventions.

Click on the following link to access the funding opportunity announcement.

A technical assistance webinar for applicants will be held on July 20, 2020 from 3-4pm ET. Click on the following link to register for the webinar.

National and Federal Opportunities for the week ending July 24!

Author: U.S. Office of Personnel Management  Published: 7/24/2020



If you or someone you know is interested in working for the federal government, then the following webinars will be of interest. All sessions are free. However, they are limited to 1,500 participants each.   All times are Eastern.

August 10, 2020, 11:00 a.m.                      REGISTER

August 27, 2020, 3:00 p.m.                        REGISTER

September 15, 2020, 11:00 a.m.               REGISTER

Navigating USAJOBS – Finding and Applying for Federal Jobs

Join the staff of the Recruitment Policy and Outreach (RPO) division of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for an in-depth webinar that provides a step-by-step process for navigating USAJOBS. We cover job searching, creating your account/profile, reviewing Job Opportunity Announcements, applying, and application status.

August 5, 2020, 4:00 p.m.                          REGISTER

August 26, 2020, 2:00 p.m.                        REGISTER

September 9, 2020, 11:00 a.m.                  REGISTER


Join the staff of the Recruitment Policy and Outreach (RPO) division of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), for an in-depth webinar on the Federal Government interview process. It explains the types of interviews, delivery methods, common questions, responding using the S.T.A.R. (Situation/Task, Action, Result) method and preparing for an interview.

August 25, 2020, 11:00 a.m.                      REGISTER

September 17, 2020, 3:00 p.m.                 REGISTER

September 30, 2020, 1:00 p.m.                 REGISTER

Microsoft and Sol Systems to Build 500 Megawatts of Solar, Boost Community Investment The two companies announced a significant portfolio of solar projects with an emphasis on community-led development.

Author: Emma Foehringer Merchant    Published: July 21, 2020    gtm

Sol Systems will build and operate 500 megawatts of solar as part of a new partnership with Microsoft. Credit: Sol Systems.

Sol Systems will build and operate 500 megawatts of solar as part of a new partnership with Microsoft. Credit: Sol Systems.

Sol Systems and Microsoft announced Tuesday they will work together on a portfolio of 500 megawatts of U.S. solar projects as well as investments in communities on the front lines of climate change.

Washington, D.C.-based Sol Systems will finance, develop and operate the new solar projects, which will add to its existing 1 gigawatts of solar in operation or construction. The portfolio represents the largest single renewables investment yet from Microsoft, which plans to reach “carbon-negative” status by 2030 and by 2050 remove more carbon than it has historically emitted.

While the size of the portfolio alone is notable, the partnership is also unique for its emphasis on community involvement. Unlike many corporate renewables purchases, which have become a significant driving force for new solar and wind additions, the Microsoft and Sol Systems collaboration emphasizes community impact.

Projects will be sited in “under-resourced communities” disproportionately impacted by pollution and climate change. The companies did not detail how those communities would be selected, though Sol Systems noted a particular emphasis on communities that have been significantly economically impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We recognize that climate and environmental issues don’t impact every community the same way and we need to address environmental equity as a broader issue,” said Lucas Joppa, Microsoft’s chief environmental officer*, in a statement on the partnership.

Project size will range from between 2 megawatts and 10 megawatts in urban environments to installations larger than 50 megawatts. The two companies did not provide specifics on where the solar projects would be located but said the portfolio will span several states, with some built in the territory of the PJM Interconnection.

Another business-led climate group

“The gap between where we are on climate change and where we need to be continues to widen. So does the gap between businesses that just talk about action and those that are actually getting the job done,” EDF President Fred Krupp said in a statement. “This new initiative holds tremendous potential for closing these gaps. Especially if other businesses follow in the coalition’s footsteps.”

To meet its own goals, Microsoft also said it would release a request for proposals this week in search of carbon removal technologies, both natural and technology-based, to help suck enough carbon out of the air to match the emissions it has released since its founding in 1975.

Corporate America has become increasingly aggressive in its climate and clean energy goals in recent years, in part due to pressure from activists, changing consumer attitudes towards sustainability and more favorable economics for wind and solar. The number of Fortune 500 companies with carbon targets grew fourfold between December 2015 and September 2019, according to analysis from Natural Capital Partners, a carbon offset retailer.

In the past few weeks, Amazon has announced its “Climate Pledge” and Engie announced a new renewables portfolio alongside Hannon Armstrong with offtakers including Target and Microsoft. On Tuesday, Apple said it would expand net zero efforts to its entire supply chain, and corporations including Salesforce and Eileen Fisher signed a letter to lawmakers calling for a delayed phase-down of clean energy tax credits.

Companies without their own stringent requirements may have to accelerate their plans come January. Recent proposals from presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden call for entirely clean electricity by 2035 and net-zero buildings by 2030. Biden’s plan to reach net-zero emissions across the economy by mid-century matches up with the vision Microsoft and other corporates centered in their “Transform to Net Zero” campaign, but the corporate plan doesn’t ride on the much-anticipated 2020 election.

EV Equity: Accelerating EV Adoption in Frontline Communities

Author: Electric Auto Association      Published: 7/10/2020            EAA

Dr. Shelley Francis, EVHybridNoire Co-Founder, EVNoire Mobility Intelligence Consulting Group and Electric Auto Association Board Member

We’re in a time of change in this country, and with the national attention on questions of equity for all Americans, it is important to highlight important equity issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.

We at EVHybridNoire, the nation’s largest network of diverse EV drivers, as well as at other electric vehicle advocacy organizations, must focus on spreading awareness that Frontline communities can face unique challenges when it comes to owning and operating electric vehicles. Ironically, these same communities are often areas that need electric vehicles the most.

With that in mind, it was great for EVHybridNoire to host the National EMobility Equity Town Hall with Forth in partnership with the California Air Resource Board in May as the first in a series of National conversations examining best practices for engaging Frontline communities, emobility equity and expanding EV adoption.  We were thrilled with the response, and plans for future Town Halls are in the works.


Our primary intention for this series is to engage thought leaders from around the country with diverse backgrounds and expertise whether Black, Asian or LatinX, as well as to elevate the role of women in this space. Our overall context has been our constant goal to increase EV awareness and adoption in Frontline  communities, as well as to turn networks of diverse electric car drivers into grassroots supporters of clean transportation programs.

At the Town Hall, we were fortunate to hear perspectives from the following sectors: utilities and co-ops, government and policy makers, philanthropy, EV practitioners and community based partners and community members. Every presentation was truly insightful and compelling.

An appetite to engage

Even on a screen, it was inspiring to see the hundreds of participants from 32 states and several foreign countries who attended our event. There is obviously a great appetite for conversations about the topics our eight speakers discussed, from environmental justice and equity in the transportation sector to the public health impact of air pollution and the role of utilities in accelerating EV adoption.

It has become clear that a more diverse consumer base must be engaged when it comes to electric vehicles.  Many states have set goals around building infrastructure and increasing the number of EV drivers. This can only be accomplished by going outside the traditional demographic and expanding the narrative of what an EV driver looks like. We’re hoping that the sharing of strategies during these National Town Halls will help state decision makers and stakeholders better implement equitable, best practices and avoid missteps others have made along the way.

In addition, as automakers accelerate manufacturing of electric vehicles, there will be opportunities for these same Frontline communities to be trained to participate in greening economies. Our aim is to position community members to be competitive in these markets.

We’re looking forward to our upcoming National EMobility Equity Virtual Conference. Originally slated for an in person event in June, it has now been pushed to November. The Conference will provide the opportunity for attendees to take a deep dive into emobility equity and best practices.

Now more than ever

EVHybridNoire is a safe space for diverse members to share information and resources about clean transportation, EMobility, shared and autonomous vehicles and other advanced EMobility tech.  We make it a primary objective to address the needs of Frontline communities that are suffering some of the worst effects of climate change due to ever-increasing urban air pollution. We also advocate for increased infrastructure, especially with regard to charging stations for electric vehicles in Frontline communities as many communities sit in an EV charging desert with limited to no charging infrastructure.

At a time when Black, LatinX, Native American and Frontline communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19, it is imperative that we accelerate our efforts in these areas. At EVHybridNoire, we are as committed as ever to the notion that one’s zip code and race/ethnicity should not determine life expectancy and health outcomes.


Al Gore Says the World Has Crossed a Threshold on Renewable Energy

Author: Leslie Kaufman          Published: 7/21/2020           Bloomberg Green

The former vice president was one of the speakers at Bloomberg Green’s live event, ‘The Time Is Now.

Former Vice President Al Gore told the audience at Bloomberg Green’s virtual live event, “The Time Is Now,” that he’s encouraged by the fact that so many economic stimulus plans across the globe are focused on carbon reduction. It shows, he said, that the world has crossed a threshold “beyond which it is ever clearer that sustainable technologies are cheaper and better.”

Gore spoke in the closing session of the conference, which also featured  Microsoft Chief Sustainability Officer Lucas Joppa, Roosevelt Institute Director of Climate Policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright, and famed climate economist Nicholas Stern. All the guests addressed the challenges created by Covid-19, but also the opportunity it represents as a potential turning point for the global effort to fight climate change.

The coronavirus pandemic has created new political momentum for climate policies across the globe, said Stern, who chairs London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change. “If you look at the opinion polls,” he said, “they show that people want to build back better. They recognize the old system was dangerous and they recognize that we can change quickly. The political leaders not only have the space to do it, they have the pressure to do it.”

That’s certainly true in Europe, where leaders on Tuesday passed a bloc-wide stimulus package that included $572 billion for green priorities. In the U.S., however, increased political polarization requires a different strategic approach. Gunn-Wright, one of the architects of the Green New Deal, called for a greater emphasis on climate justice in dealing with the environmental effects of climate change.

“To move something with no support on one side, you need multiracial coalitions,” Gunn-Wright said. “And that is difficult to do unless you are speaking about climate in a way that creates a more just and equitable society.”

Gunn-Wright and Gore both spoke approvingly of the climate plan released last week by the Democratic nominee for president, Joe Biden. The proposal called for $2 trillion of investment over four years to move the nation to 100% carbon-free electric generation by 2035, among other goals. It also committed to putting 40% of that investment into communities that have disproportionately borne the brunt of climate change, which tend to be communities of color. While Gore called the plan “pretty impressive,” Gunn-Wright also warned that without taking a holistic approach, the plan could still fall short of its climate justice goals.

Joppa spoke to the role corporations have in working against climate change. While they can’t take the place of a strong governmental regulatory system, he said, they have a crucial role in meeting the nation’s ambitious carbon reduction goals.

“We need to take a very broad view on what’ s necessary and the role that a company like Microsoft can play,” Joppa said. Referring to emissions reductions he added, “We need to show that this isn’t just possible but also good for business.”

At the start of this year, Microsoft announced it would be carbon negative by 2030. On Monday, the software-maker said it would be a founding member of a new consortium of global corporations including Nike Inc., Starbucks Corp., Unilever NV, and Danone that’s devoted to sharing resources and tactics for slashing carbon emissions. The consortium brings together the efforts of some of the biggest global companies that have pledged to take action against climate change.

On Tuesday, Microsoft announced that the first investment of its $1 billion climate fund will be in venture capital firm Energy Impact Partners, which invests in new technologies for greener energy and transportation systems.

Other guests included Melanie Nakagawa, director of climate strategy at Princeville Capital, and Marcelia Freeman, senior vice president at EIG Partners.

The Energy of The Future Is Solar Power

Author: John Hamlin       Published: 7/20/2020      IQS Directory

The Energy Of The Future Is Solar Power

Not so long ago, solar power was something of a dream for those who were ahead of the curve in the environmental movement. It appeared to be an option for the wealthy and for those who had committed themselves to environmentalism.

The idea we could heat our homes and generate electricity from little more than sunshine seemed like a utopian ideal.

However, as the real and immediate effects of global warming are felt around the world in everything from droughts to mega-hurricanes, the implementation of solar power is now a feature of global policy and economics; it’s part of a combination of renewable energy sources which eliminate the use of fossil fuels that drive global warming.

Solar power has been steadily on the rise around the world, and as fossil fuels become increasingly scarce, we can expect to see solar power increasingly adopted.


Solar Power on The Rise

Solar Power On The Rise

The surge in interest across the globe in solar power has largely been in response to the problem of carbon emissions and global warming. Solar power and other renewable sources of energy are the best ways to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gases.

As a direct result, global use and implementation of solar technology has been on a steady rise since the early 2000’s. Solar is now the fastest rising source of renewable energy in the world, reaching about 1% of the total energy produced globally.

In fact, solar energy production now rivals nuclear power globally. Solar energy reached a capacity of about 350 GW (gigawatts) globally in 2015, compared to nuclear energy which topped out at 391 GW in the same year. In addition, it is predicted at the current rate of conversion to solar energy, it will overtake the use of fossil fuels by 2050, with most of the globe running on energy produced by the sun.

Global use of solar power grew especially fast in the last year, rising by 50%, with China and the United States at the forefront in terms of growth. Europe leads the world in the use of solar power with Germany at the top of all European countries. Germany set a goal of reaching 100 GW and surpassed with 104 GW in 2016.

Expectations for solar energy are high. It is projected in the next five years, solar power will exceed the combined energy produced in China and India. In fact, the world has witnessed an increase of over 150 GW in general renewables, while coal and gas have been moving steadily downward.

Projections from the Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) state that China will account for nearly half the solar panels installed in the coming years, and India will outpace the EU for use of solar power.

If there is a dark cloud in this, it is the United Kingdom is drastically slowing down in its conversion to renewables and solar power. After the U.K. cut subsidies for the installation of solar panels and cut back on investment in solar farms, the amount of solar produced there fell to half of what it had been the previous year.

However, even with this rather dramatic slow-down, the U.K. still led Europe with the amount of solar power produced, with 29% of new capacity. This exceeds Germany, which was at 21%.


Forces Driving The Rise Solar Power

Forces Driving The Rise Solar Power

The tremendous increase in the use of solar power is due to a combination of simple economics on the one hand, and global policy changes on the other. The use of non-renewables in the form of fossil fuels has grown expensive, and renewables have gone down in price.

Wind and solar projects have been at record low costs and the general cost of solar is expected to be comparable to fossil fuels in the near future, leaving the market no choice but to explore renewables for profit motives alone.

The simultaneous global awareness of the dangers of fossil fuels with respect to carbon emissions, and the effect these things have on climate change, have driven the increase in solar power.

Much of this increase is due to reductions in the cost of production for solar power, and policies which drive renewable energies. Solar energy comes in two forms. Photovoltaic cells  (PV) produce energy directly from the sun without the need of a central system.

There is also thermal solar energy production which converts solar energy into electricity using the same methods and fossil fuel driven plants. These can be centralized and used to produce power for large grids and for large-scale industrial purposes.

The largest increase has been in PV production; the investments in China and the United States have led this increase in use of solar energy with the increase in PV systems in building materials. PVs can be embedded in roofing shingles and other materials, which allow for new constructions to be fitted for solar energy with the materials used to actually build the structure.

On top of all this, there are a number of distinct advantages to solar power:

The advantages of using solar energy are numerous:

  • Solar energy is completely renewable. It eliminates the use of fossil fuels, which are the primary source of greenhouse gases and one of the leading contributors to global warming.
  • The energy emitted by the sun is abundant and available everywhere, and can be harnessed to power our electric motors.
  • Solar is completely sustainable and environmentally friendly in nearly every way.
  • Perhaps most important for individual homeowners is the availability of incentives and low-cost loans, which are currently available to support the use of solar energy.


Future Projections for Solar Power

Future Projections for Solar Power

The projections for increases in the use of solar energy actually far exceeded expectations in the years leading up to 2016. The U,S. Energy Information Administration predicted solar and other renewables would increase to about 0.8 GW of capacity by 2016. The increase went well beyond that to 46 times the original projection. Implementation and usage of renewables has been particularly dramatic for the forging and die casting industries.

Wind power increased at a similarly dramatic rate. From a projection of 17 GW of wind power, the actual increase was as much as 82 GW. Along with this increase in solar and other renewables, there was nearly a 45% decrease in coal-powered energy production.

The overall outlook for solar and other renewables at the present time is strong. Resistance from the current presidential administration has caused a slow down in these increases, but the overall momentum of solar energy remains steady.

The financial predictions seem to be just as strong. From 2003 to 2013, the global solar market went from 4.7 billion dollars to 91.3 billion dollars. The projections for the next decade predict an increase upwards of 158 billion dollars. That the financial sector is growing with the increase in solar energy and other renewable sources suggests a momentum in the use of solar that is resistant to setbacks and opposition. The global market will drive the use of solar energy regardless of any single national policy.



Solar energy remains one of the best alternatives to fossil fuels. The force and effects of global warming are not going to decline, and the need for alternative energy resources is immediate.

The technology to use solar energy for individual and large-scale needs already exists. What is more, the will on the part of the market and the global policy makers seem to be behind solar energy.

We can see the rise in the use of solar energy has been dramatic, and the momentum to continue this general conversion to solar energy would appear unstoppable. Already, some of the largest markets and some of the most powerful nations are leading the charge to using solar energy in their blue-collar industries, such as aluminumstainless steel, and copper fabrication.

So, while we may not see the end of fossil fuels any time soon, we can be glad that our energy sources are only getting cleaner. The future looks bright.

Summer is heating up – but your energy bill doesn’t need to!

Author: Montgomery County Green Bank    Published: 7/10/2020   WTOP NEWS


This content is provided by the Montgomery County Green Bank.

Have you noticed any of these things this summer for your home?

  • Big cooling bills?
  • Uncomfortable rooms with uneven cooling?
  • Air quality that could be better?
  • Wanting to put the sun’s energy to work for you?

The Montgomery County Green Bank is aware of these concerns – and wants to help homeowners – like YOU –  take action today to meet your needs.  If paying for these improvements is putting this action out of reach, the Montgomery County Green Bank can help.

Providing exclusive benefits to Montgomery County, the Montgomery County Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program in partnership with participating lenders offers flexible, affordable financing at terms and rates better than the participating lenders’ standard offer programs.

  • Maybe you are in an emergency situation and need to update your system immediately – the Clean Energy Advantage Program can help.
  • Maybe you want to lower your utility bills costs by making your home more energy efficient – the Clean Energy Advantage Program can help.
  • Maybe you are looking for new HVAC systems that provide energy savings and better indoor air quality – the Clean Energy Advantage Program can help.
  • Maybe you want to install solar panels or a renewable energy system in your home – the Clean Energy Advantage Program can help.

The Clean Energy Advantage Program can cover a long list of energy efficiency and renewable improvements including:

  • air leakage reduction, increased insulation, duct sealing
  • high efficiency heating, cooling or hot water systems
  • renewable energy systems: geothermal and solar PV
  • energy storage
  • electric vehicle charging stations.

Plus, your investment can go further when homeowners take advantage of Maryland utility program rebates and incentives. Once you apply for these rebates and incentives, the overall cost for the project will be less.

The CEA Program’s financing then covers the remaining budget gap to get the project done.

The Clean Energy Advantage Program allows your savings to stay put, your credit card to go untapped, and your monthly payments that use the energy savings to work within your budget.

Loans offered by the participating lenders can cover up to 100% of the cost of your upgrade, anywhere from $3,000 to $50,000, and repayment periods from two to fifteen years depending on the scope of work.  And, if you want to pay off the loan early – no problem and with no pre-payment penalties.

The Program is simple to use – go to and contact one of the participating contractors.

Whether you want to lower your utility bills, help improve the air quality in your home, make your home more comfortable, or add a renewable system – the Clean Energy Advantage Program is here to help YOU.

For more information on the Montgomery County Green Bank and its programs, check out .

The Montgomery County Green Bank’s mission as a nonprofit is to help residents achieve more energy savings and healthier environments.  The Montgomery County Green Bank is dedicated to providing financing tools to help make it easier and more affordable for county residents and businesses to move ahead on clean energy projects.

New USC Study Shows Lasting Benefits of PACE

Author : PACENation            Published: 7/15/2020

PACENation is excited to announce that the Schwarzenegger Institute, part of the University of Southern California’s Sol Price School of Public Policy, today published a comprehensive study that provides new understanding of the positive impacts of PACE on increasing community investment in critical sustainable infrastructure.

The study, “The Impact of PACE Funding on Solar Adoption,” was conducted by Jonathan Eyer, USC Sol Price School Research Assistant Professor in Policy Analysis and Economics. This paper, analyzing PACE’s impact on increased solar PV installations, is the first study to analyze the impact of PACE at a multi-state level and over a long time horizon, beyond an exclusive municipal-level analysis focused on the early experiences with PACE in California. Additionally, it is the first study to analyze how removing access to PACE financing can significantly decrease the number of solar installations in local communities, indicating that PACE availability provides ongoing and long lasting benefits that disappear when it is removed as an option to homeowners and businesses.

This study adds to a growing body of research on PACE across a variety of academic institutions, further demonstrating that PACE is essential public policy in addressing the challenges of climate change. The paper’s findings show that:

  • The availability of PACE roughly doubles the number of solar installations at the community level.
  • When PACE availability is removed from a community (in the case of Kern County, CA in 2017), solar installations drop by approximately one third.
  • Solar installations increase as the number of PACE administrators operating in a municipality rises in addition to the underlying impact of access to PACE.
  • PACE availability at the state level, analyzing California and Missouri PACE programs, increased solar installations by between 13 – 25% respectively per month compared to neighboring states without PACE.

As federal policy makers, state legislators, local elected officials, and community stakeholders across the nation look to expand public policy initiatives to combat climate change, this research clearly shows PACE is an essential public policy tool in that effort. “The benefits of PACE are long-lasting and the removal of PACE will slow installations and weaken efforts to slow climate change,” said Professor Eyer. “Evidence from state-level implementations also indicate the large potential benefits from further residential PACE authorization.”

Further, while this research focused on the impact of PACE availability on solar energy, the study’s conclusions imply the additive impact of PACE availability would extend to other PACE eligible home and business improvement measures such as wildfire and hurricane resiliency, energy efficiency, and water conservation. As the country works to recover from the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and begins to re-engage and re-invest in critical sustainability and resiliency infrastructure, research like this shows that PACE should play a central role.

This study was funded by Ygrene Energy Fund. A complete copy of the study is available here.

View the full study

DOE Releases Draft Energy Storage Grand Challenge Roadmap and Requests Stakeholder Input

Author:  DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office   Published: 7/15/2020

Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

On July 14, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the Energy Storage Grand Challenge Draft Roadmap and a Request for Information (RFI) seeking stakeholder input on the Draft Roadmap. Announced in January 2020 by U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette, the Energy Storage Grand Challenge (ESGC) is a comprehensive program to accelerate the development, commercialization, and utilization of next-generation energy storage. The Draft Roadmap outlines a Department-wide strategy to accelerate innovation across a range of storage technologies based on three concepts: Innovate Here, Make Here, Deploy Everywhere.

“The Energy Storage Grand Challenge leverages the unique, extensive expertise and capabilities of the Department of Energy and our National Labs to really push the envelope when it comes to developing next-generation energy storage,” said Secretary Brouillette. “Coordinating with and receiving input from our stakeholders is critical as we work to position the United States as a global leader in energy storage technologies of the future. While research and development are the foundation of advancing these technologies, the Trump Administration recognizes global leadership also requires a commitment to commercializing technologies from the lab to the marketplace.”

“The RFI and Draft Roadmap are the culmination of many months of collaboration across DOE’s program offices to address the Nation’s need for resilient, reliable, secure and transformative energy storage solutions,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “The Secretary launched the ESGC earlier this year highlighting the importance of manufacturing these critical technologies in the U.S. so they can be deployed by American industry at home and abroad. Increasingly energy storage is a vital component of energy and national security, and today’s announcement will garner valuable input from stakeholders and partners.”

Read more

5 Ways Distributed Energy Resources are Working in Texas, Now

Author: Claire Alford and Suzanne Bertin   Published: 7/15/2020                 AEE

TAEBA DER blog post-730

By now, it is no secret that distributed energy resources (DERs), including rooftop solar, energy storage, customer-owned generation, demand response, electric vehicles, and energy efficiency can save Texas billions of dollars over the coming years. A report published by Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA)  showed that DERs could deliver $5.47 billion of value over 10 years by prolonging the use of existing, functional utility infrastructure and by better integrating DERs into electricity markets. But the value of DERs is not just in the future. Rather, DERs are already providing Texas businesses and Texas residents with many benefits, including reliability, resilience, and cost savings. Read on for five examples of DERs currently at work in the Lone Star State.

From hospitals to single-family homes, and from solar installations to microgrids, DERs provide immediate benefits in cost savings, reliability, and resilience for the households and businesses that install them. Here are five examples of DERs put to work in Texas.

Solar Energy Powering Facilities 

SunPower Corp., which currently has 13.2 GW of solar installed globally, worked with Toyota Motor North America to help them realize cost savings from rooftop solar. SunPower installed solar panels at both Toyota’s North American headquarters, located in Plano, as well as another location in San Antonio. Together, these two projects totaled 12 MW of capacity, enough to offset about one-third of annual electricity usage at the headquarters campus. In fact, the 7.75 MW Plano installation itself represents Texas’ largest commercial solar array yet developed.

Solar Providing Savings for Residential Customers 

Homeowners are drawn to solar energy because of the potential for electricity bill savings, which in Texas, customers are consistently seeing. SunPower also works with residential customers to unlock savings. A household in Arlington, with a system size of 14 kW, is lowering its annual electricity bill by 74%. In combination with net energy metering, this customer is saving over $200 a month, toward savings of nearly $43,000 over 25 years. Likewise, a household in Fort Worth, with a 10kW system, is offsetting its annual electricity bill by 95%, saving over $170 a month and over $37,000 over 25 years.

Microgrid Improving Reliability for Texas’s Largest Utility

Schneider Electric worked with Oncor Electric Energy, a regulated transmission and distribution utility that serves more than 10 million customers across Texas, to build a demonstration microgrid at its Lancaster facility involving multiple DERs. This microgrid, which consisted of two solar photovoltaic arrays, two battery energy storage systems, one microturbine, and four backup generators, was one of the most technically advanced microgrids built nationally in 2016. To date, Schneider has completed two microgrids with Oncor, at its control center and research and development center. Schneider has also worked with CPS Energy in San Antonio to develop a distribution automation strategy and with the United States General Services Administration to transform 14 buildings in eight Texas cities into efficient, grid-interactive buildings.

Microgrids Enhancing Energy Security at Military Base 

Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), a United States military facility under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Air Force, is working with Ameresco to achieve optimum energy security, resilience, and sustainability. The project includes 18.5 MW of solar, 4 MW/8MWh of lithium-ion battery energy storage, over 2 million gallons of thermal energy storage. During a power outage, the microgrid will be able to “island,” or disconnect from the grid via its control system and provide off-grid power to the Air Force base. This facility will be fully operational within the next two years.

Demand Response Increasing Revenue for Hospital 

Enel X, a part of the Enel Group, worked with a large hospital in Texas to maximize earnings from demand response (DR). Enel worked with the hospital to make upgrades to its backup generation in order to qualify for participation in ERCOT’s DR services. The upgrades enable the hospital to provide up to  4.2 MW of DR to ERCOT, earning the organization more than $467,000 in payments over five years, after covering the upgrade costs.

DERs will continue to demonstrate value to the Texans who invest in them, but with supportive policies, in law and regulation, the full value of DERs can be unlocked for all Texas customers. This will build upon the increased resilience, reliability, and cost savings that Texas businesses, institutions, and households are already seeing today.

Click below to view the TAEBA webinar, “Distributed Energy Resources in Texas: Resilience and Reliability in the Time of COVID,” featuring representatives of SunPower, Enel X, Schneider Electric, and Ameresco.

View the Recording


AEE, ACE NY Applaud New York Statewide Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Incentive Program

Author: Monique Hanis                        Published:  7/16/2020                  AEE

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 3.36.17 PMGroups note Public Service Commission approval of $701 million “make-ready” program makes state a leader in electric vehicle readiness 

ALBANY, NY, July 16, 2020 – Today national business association Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) reacted to the order in Case No. 18-E-0138* from the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) establishing a statewide electric vehicle charging infrastructure “make-ready” program, which will provide incentives to facilitate the installation of charging stations. This order authorizes $701 million in incentives, which have the potential to stimulate millions of dollars in additional private investment in new electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

“The Make-Ready program will stimulate much-needed activity in the EV Infrastructure market at a time when COVID-19 has slowed economic activity,” said Matt Stanberry, Managing Director for Advanced Energy Economy. “AEE applauds the Commission for making a significant and timely order that is an important step towards cementing New York’s place as a leader in transportation electrification. Transportation is currently New York’s largest emissions sector and the state has significant emissions reduction goals under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). Transportation electrification is a part of the solution that is ready for scale, which makes policies like make-ready programs that accelerate its growth wise investments.”

Anne Reynolds, Executive Director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York stated, “Today’s action shows that New York is serious about promoting electric vehicles. The scale of this program is beyond any prior efforts, and it recognizes the need to install vehicle chargers widely around the State. It is a huge step for EVs – and for New Yorkers that are thinking about buying an EV. We commend the Commission and Staff for the time and effort they have put into developing this program.” She continued, “The proposal also includes three exciting new innovation competitions, new responsibility for utilities to assist in fleet electrification, support for the electrification of Upstate transit bus fleets, and extra incentives to install charging stations within 1-2 miles of disadvantaged communities. It is a very thorough, ambitious, and well-researched program.”

Today’s Order follows the January 13, 2020, Commission Staff whitepaper that originally proposed a statewide “make-ready” program designed to provide incentives to develop light-duty electric vehicle supply equipment and infrastructure for both Level 2 and Direct Current Fast Charger stations.

*AEE offers free, complimentary access to its PowerSuite online platform tracking all federal and state energy legislation and regulatory filings to credentialed media. Sign up for a free trial and contact Monique Hanis ( for permanent access.

About Advanced Energy Economy
Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) is a national association of businesses that are making the energy we use secure, clean, and affordable. Advanced energy encompasses a broad range of products and services that constitute the best available technologies for meeting energy needs today and tomorrow. AEE’s mission is to transform public policy to enable rapid growth of advanced energy businesses. Engaged at the federal level and in more than a dozen states around the country, like New York AEE represents more than 100 companies in the $238 billion U.S. advanced energy industry, which employs 3.6 million U.S. workers. Learn more at, track the latest news @AEEnet.

About the Alliance for Clean Energy New York
The Alliance for Clean Energy New York (ACE NY) is a broad coalition dedicated to promoting clean energy, energy efficiency, a healthy environment, and a strong economy for the Empire State, and is New York’s premier advocate for the rapid adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Follow news @ACE_newyork.

Media Contacts:
AEE: Monique Hanis,, 202-391-0884
ACE NY: Anne Reynolds,, 518.432.1405 x222;
Kathleen Gasperini,, 518-432-1405 x223