Federal grant money that will get solar energy access to low-income households is flowing Austin's way.

Austin Energy expects to see several million dollars in funding for deployment of solar energy to the city's historically disadvantaged communities and medically vulnerable residents, according to a city announcement. 

The money comes from the Environmental Protection Agency’s $7 billion Solar for All program, part of the $27 billion Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund that was created under the Inflation Reduction Act. The city electric utility will receive some of the $250,000 in funding granted to the Texas Solar for All Coalition, a group of 60 cities, counties, and community-based organizations partnered to accelerate investment in clean energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, close the solar equity gap, and create green jobs, according to the announcement.

Austin Energy says it will use the grant money to:

  • Expand access to rooftop and community solar, helping lower customer bills by more than 20% (average annual saving of nearly $2,000) in specific low-income communities.
  • Create good green jobs via a locally trained workforce.
  • Reduce carbon pollution by expanding green energy usage in the Austin area.
  • Foster community resilience through battery backup systems, especially benefiting medically vulnerable citizens.

Austin Energy will establish 15-year power purchase agreements with an upfront incentive for hosting a solar array and battery for 15 years and a guaranteed 20 percent bill discount through its low-income Community Solar Program. Participating homes will essentially become part of the city's power grid, and, after 15 year years, will own the solar array.

The utility says it will work with local solar contractors to build solar and storage projects at low-income residential sites, focusing on households with medically vulnerable residents.