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Federal 'Solar For All' project planned for South Dakota

Creative Commons

The EPA has awarded the Coalition for Green Capital over $62 million to develop residential solar power in low-income communities.

In South Dakota, the coalition has developed a “Solar For All” project. The project’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gasses and other air pollutants by providing solar panels and energy improvements for homes.

KC Becker is the Regional Administrator for the EPA's Mountains and Plains region. She said although solar technology has become more cost effective there are still communities who face economic barriers in gaining solar power.

“One of our goals with the Greenhouse Gas Reduction fund is to make clean energy more accessible, especially for communities who are both overburdened by climate change impacts and disproportionately excluded from green technology resources. The Solar for All program will make access to cleaner energy more equitable for South Dakota communities,” said Becker.

Nenha Young is the Director of Policy and Network for the Coalition For Green Capital. She said the funds will go to more than just solar projects.

“Beyond just the solar, it is also energy efficiency improvements are eligible uses of the funds. So we know that we can’t put rooftop solar on homes that need new windows or new roofs. So it’s not just going to be solar, it’s going to be improvements that are necessary in order to make sure that the technology works properly,” said Young.

Young said the coalition’s goal is to include all local stakeholders in deciding how the project will best serve each community.

"We are very conscience that we need to get much more stakeholder engagement and community input in the planning to create a program. We want it to be co-designed with folks on the ground and state and local governments. So, that first year we are going to be doing some very deep stakeholder engagement,” said Young.

Organization leadership said South Dakota has received multiple energy efficiency awards from the grant money.

Eli Hopson is the Executive Director and Chief Operation Officer for the Coalition For Green Capital.

“These awards are a big win for residents across North and South Dakota and on tribal lands in the region. We look forward to meeting with local leaders, including tribal leaders, to collaborate in putting these dollars to work quickly and effectively and in as many communities as possible. We also congratulate many of our network partners who have received awards and will deliver for their communities in states across the country,” said Hopson.

Coalition leadership said we can expect to see projects begin in the next few years.

Evan Walton is an SDPB reporter based in Sioux Falls. Evan holds a Master’s in English Literature from Southern New Hampshire University and was honorably discharged from the United States Army in 2015, where he served for five years as an infantryman.