wind and solar energy - clean communities investment accelerator

Clean Communities Investment Accelerator program kick-starts clean energy projects in low-income communities

A $6 billion boost for community development financial institutions

The Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA), a program within the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), offers $6 billion in funding to support clean energy projects. Now, there is good news and a few things to be aware of with regards to the CCIA.

The good news is that Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) are eligible for technical assistance services, financial assistance and technical assistance subawards. The program will fund close to 1,000 community lenders that are already lending in low-income and disadvantaged communities (LIDAC) to expand current or create new clean energy programs. Community lenders include U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institutions (including Community Development Loan Funds, Community Development Banks, Community Development Credit Unions, and Community Development Venture Capital Funds), low-income credit unions, green banks and others.

  • Technical assistance services will entail targeted support that enable CDFIs and other community lenders to develop projects, develop a capital stack and improve program performance perhaps through market analysis, training and underwriting guidance. These services will be provided by in-house staff or contractors of the primary CCIA funding recipients, with the goal of establishing new and supporting existing self-sustaining clean energy financing programs within their community lender networks.
  • Financial assistance awards (up to $10 million) will be provided by the primary CCIA EPA awardees as capital for CDFIs and other community lenders to deploy into distributed energy, net-zero buildings and zero-emissions transportation projects where they are needed most. The EPA expects a rough distribution of project funding as follows: 50% for net-zero buildings, 15% for zero emissions transportation, 20% for distributed energy generation and storage, and 15% for other qualified projects. Additionally, clean energy programs and/or projects are expected to leverage private capital.
  • Technical assistance subawards (up to $1 million) are only available to CDFIs selected for financial assistance to support their clean energy programs. They include funding for activities such as procuring training, market analysis and technical support; hiring staff; developing new financial products; supporting predevelopment activities, including site and building assessments (e.g., energy audits), financial and technological feasibility studies (e.g., solar resource studies), design and engineering support and permitting support. This subaward can be used for eligible indirect costs.

Community lenders and CDFIs may be eligible for financial and technical assistance under these programs. Each EPA awardee will determine the extent to which community lenders, including CDFIs, can participate in their individual programs and the financial products they can access.

CCIA requirements to be aware of

Keep in mind, however, that there are limitations to the use of these funds. To start, they have to be related to eligible projects and can only be used for allowable costs. Costs related to research and development, for projects outside the 10 EPA regions, or for union organizing are unallowable.

All CCIA funds have to go towards projects that meet the six mandatory categories below and are located within LIDAC. Eligible disadvantaged communities should be identified through the Climate and Economic Justice Screening (CEJST) mapping tool or the EJScreen mapping tool. Properties eligible through low-income criteria include geographically dispersed low-income households or properties that provide affordable housing.

Not-for-profit organizations, local governments, community-based organizations, and other entities that serve underserved communities can apply for funding. Applicants need to demonstrate how their projects will benefit the target communities, reduce emissions and create local jobs. The application process typically involves submitting detailed project proposals and budgets.

As noted earlier, the six mandatory categories that outline eligible projects, activities and technologies are those that:

  1. would reduce or avoid greenhouse gas emissions
  2. would reduce or avoid emissions of other air pollutants climate change
  3. may not have otherwise been financed
  4. would mobilize private capital
  5. would support only commercial technologies
  6. would meet one or more of these seven categories: clean energy and energy efficiency; clean transportation; affordable and sustainable housing; training and workforce development; remediation and reduction of legacy pollution; and development of critical clean water infrastructure.

Finally, maximizing community benefits through workforce development partnerships is highly encouraged and unions such as AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), IUPAT (International Union of Painters and Allied Trades), NABTU (North America’s Building Trades Unions), and SMART (International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers) have demonstrated interest in supporting high paying opportunities for LIDAC residents.

Take action

Unsure if your project or project portfolio is eligible? Connect with us. Our advisors will not only explore project eligibility, but we’ll help prepare you and your team pursue additional capital through other GGRF programs (National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF) or Solar For All), Inflation Reduction Act tax credits and other sources. Get started.

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