$8.5 million available through CEJA Community Solar Energy Sovereignty Grant Program

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Chicago Construction News staff writer

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) will distribute $8.5 million in funding through the Community Solar Energy Sovereignty grant program for organizations and technical service providers in low-income and historically disadvantaged communities to plan, develop and build community solar projects.

Recipients will be selected through a competitive Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) process. Qualified entities include community-based organizations and technical service providers working in direct partnerships with community-based organizations can apply for grants, with awards ranging from $50,000 to $1 million. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until July 1, 2024, at 5 p.m., or until funds are exhausted.

To view the NOFO and apply for the grant, please visit the DCEO website. Interested parties are encouraged to reach out to CEO.GrantHelp@illinois.gov for application assistance. To help applicants prepare to apply for funding, DCEO will be holding a technical assistance webinar at 1 p.m. on March 14.

“Illinois is leading the fight against climate change and putting environmental justice front and center, said Governor JB Pritzker. “With this latest investment of $8.5 million to support solar energy projects in marginalized communities, we’ll create well-paying jobs and build healthier communities.”

Grants will provide upfront seed capital funding to overcome barriers to project development caused by lack of capital in historically disadvantaged communities.

Grant funding may be used to support a variety of pre-development activities to benefit historically disadvantaged communities, including early-stage project planning, project team organization, site identification, procurement and contracting, securing financing, customer outreach, site assessments, and more. Funds may also be used to support the development of cooperative or community ownership models that allocate benefits to communities and support long-term governance, management, and maintenance of community solar projects.

The Community Solar Energy Sovereignty is one of several contractor, workforce, and community support programs established by the landmark CEJA legislation intended to move Illinois to a 100 percent carbon-free future.

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