Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) launched a new initiative to support states and local communities as they plan for and evaluate proposed development of large renewable energy facilities. The Renewable Energy Siting through Technical Engagement and Planning (R-STEP) program will support the creation of new, or the expansion of existing, state-based programs or initiatives that improve renewable energy planning and siting processes for local communities. Large-scale renewable energy projects, especially wind and solar facilities, have a pivotal role in decarbonizing the grid quickly and cost-effectively to achieve President Biden’s goals of a 100% clean electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions economy by 2050. By supporting state-based programs that serve as a resource to local communities, R-STEP will improve renewable energy deployment outcomes for host communities, especially disadvantaged communities, local governments, and renewable energy developers.
“Where and how large-scale solar, wind, and other renewable energy facilities are sited matters to communities. State and local authorities have important roles in evaluating and proactively planning for clean energy opportunities, but they may not have the resources to carefully consider many complex issues and perspectives,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “DOE is proud to support our state and local partners in the important work of facilitating a clean energy transition that benefits all host communities.”
Through R-STEP, DOE anticipates awarding approximately five to seven state-based collaboratives (Collaboratives) between $1-$2 million each to expand state and local capacity on large-scale renewable energy siting and planning. Collaboratives will also benefit from tailored technical assistance and peer-learning opportunities through the program, and R-STEP will serve as a platform for Collaboratives to share learnings and best practices with other stakeholders.
Activities conducted with awarded funds could include but are not limited to:
• Engaging with local governments and communities to identify renewable energy siting and planning priorities,
• Hiring and subcontracting to expand technical capacity and leverage experts in the region or state,
• Developing state-specific resources that could improve siting practices and outcomes for local communities and the renewable energy industry, and
• Conducting trainings and workshops with local governments to improve technical understanding of renewable energy siting.
The competitive opportunity is expected to open on September 12, 2023, and close on November 3, 2023. DOE encourages interested applicants to begin identifying the partnerships that would work best in their states.
Collaboratives should consist of cross-disciplinary teams with an understanding of local community needs and a variety of expertise relevant to planning for and siting large-scale renewable energy facilities. Collaboratives could include but are not limited to state energy offices, Governor's offices, Extension offices, universities, non-governmental organizations, community-based organizations, and other organizations. DOE highly encourages state energy offices (or equivalent state agencies) to participate or lead applications.
The R-STEP program is managed by ENERGYWERX in partnership with DOE, a collaboration made possible through an innovative Partnership Intermediary Agreement set up by the DOE's Office of Technology Transitions. This agreement enables ENERGYWERX to broaden DOE’s engagement with innovative organizations and non-traditional partners, facilitating the rapid development, scaling, and deployment of clean energy solutions.