Text: H.R.3041 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (07/13/2015)

 
[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 3041 Introduced in House (IH)]

114th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 3041

  To require the Secretary of Energy to provide loans and grants for 
        solar installations in low-income and underserved areas.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             July 13, 2015

  Mr. Cardenas (for himself, Ms. Lee, and Mr. Ellison) introduced the 
   following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Energy and 
                                Commerce

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
  To require the Secretary of Energy to provide loans and grants for 
        solar installations in low-income and underserved areas.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Low-Income Solar Act''.

SEC. 2. LOAN AND GRANT PROGRAM FOR SOLAR INSTALLATIONS IN LOW-INCOME 
              AND UNDERSERVED AREAS.

    (a) Definitions.--In this section:
            (1) Administrative expenses.--The term ``administrative 
        expenses'' has such meaning as may be established by the 
        Secretary.
            (2) Community solar facility.--The term ``community solar 
        facility'' means a community-based distributed photovoltaic 
        solar electricity generating facility that, as determined by 
        the Secretary--
                    (A) is owned by a subscriber organization;
                    (B) has a nameplate rating of 2 megawatts or less;
                    (C) is located in or near a community of 
                subscribers to whom the beneficial use of the 
                electricity generated by the facility belongs; and
                    (D) reserves not less than 25 percent of the 
                quantity of electricity generated by the facility for 
                low-income households that are subscribers to the 
                facility.
            (3) Eligible entity.--The term ``eligible entity'' means--
                    (A) a low-income household;
                    (B) a unit of State, territorial, or local 
                government;
                    (C) an Indian tribe;
                    (D) a Native Hawaiian community-based organization;
                    (E) a rural community (as defined in section 343(a) 
                of the Consolidated Farm and Rural Development Act (7 
                U.S.C. 1991(a)));
                    (F) any other national or regional entity that--
                            (i) deploys a safe, high-quality 
                        photovoltaic solar electricity generating 
                        facility for consumers under a model that 
                        maximizes energy savings to those consumers; 
                        and
                            (ii) has experience, as determined by the 
                        Secretary, installing solar systems using a job 
                        training or community volunteer-based 
                        installation model; and
                    (G) for the loan program only, in addition to 
                entities described in subsections (A) through (F), a 
                private entity that--
                            (i) deploys a safe, high-quality 
                        photovoltaic solar electricity generating 
                        facility for consumers under a model that 
                        maximizes energy savings to those consumers; 
                        and
                            (ii) will install solar systems using a job 
                        training installation model.
            (4) Grant-eligible household.--The term ``grant-eligible 
        household'' means a household the members of which--
                    (A) earn an income equal to 80 percent or less of 
                the applicable area median income, as defined for the 
                applicable year by the Secretary of Housing and Urban 
                Development; and
                    (B) reside in an owner-occupied home.
            (5) Indian tribe.--The term ``Indian tribe'' means any 
        Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or 
        community, including any Alaskan Native village or regional or 
        village corporation (as defined in, or established pursuant to, 
        the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (43 U.S.C. 1601 et 
        seq.)), that is recognized as eligible for the special programs 
        and services provided by the United States to Indians because 
        of their status as Indians.
            (6) Low-income household.--The term ``low-income 
        household'' means a household with an income equal to 80 
        percent or less of the applicable area median income, as 
        defined for the applicable year by the Secretary of Housing and 
        Urban Development.
            (7) Multi-family affordable housing.--The term ``multi-
        family affordable housing'' means any federally subsidized 
        affordable housing complex in which at least 50 percent of the 
        units are reserved for low-income households.
            (8) Native hawaiian community-based organization.--The term 
        ``Native Hawaiian community-based organization'' means any 
        organization that is composed primarily of Native Hawaiians 
        from a specific community and that assists in the social, 
        cultural, and educational development of Native Hawaiians in 
        that community.
            (9) Photovoltaic solar electricity generating facility.--
        The term ``photovoltaic solar electricity generating facility'' 
        means--
                    (A) a generator that creates electricity from light 
                photons; and
                    (B) the accompanying hardware enabling that 
                electricity to flow--
                            (i) onto the electric grid; or
                            (ii) into an energy storage device.
            (10) Secretary.--The term ``Secretary'' means the Secretary 
        of Energy.
            (11) Subscriber.--The term ``subscriber'' means an 
        electricity consumer who--
                    (A) owns a subscription, or an equivalent unit or 
                share of the capacity or generation, of a community 
                solar facility;
                    (B) has identified one or more physical locations--
                            (i) to which the subscription will be 
                        attributed;
                            (ii) within the same electric utility 
                        service territory, or within the same 
                        geographical area, as the community solar 
                        facility, in accordance with applicable State 
                        and local law; and
                            (iii) that may change from time to time, 
                        subject to the condition that the physical 
                        location shall be within the geographical 
                        limits allowed for a subscriber of the 
                        applicable community solar facility; and
                    (C) confirms the status of the consumer as a low-
                income household for each applicable fiscal year.
            (12) Subscription.--The term ``subscription'' means a share 
        in the capacity, or a proportional interest in the solar 
        electricity generation, of a community solar facility.
            (13) Underserved area.--The term ``underserved area'' 
        means--
                    (A) a geographical area with low or no photovoltaic 
                solar deployment, as determined by the Secretary; or
                    (B) trust land, as defined in section 3765 of title 
                38, United States Code.
    (b) Establishment of Loan and Grant Program.--
            (1) In general.--The Secretary shall establish a program 
        under which the Secretary shall provide loans and grants to 
        eligible entities for use in accordance with this section.
            (2) Funding.--
                    (A) In general.--Subject to the availability of 
                appropriations, the Secretary shall make grants and 
                issue loans in accordance with this subsection.
                    (B) Loans.--Subject to subparagraph (D), not more 
                than 50 percent of funds made available under 
                subparagraph (A) for a fiscal year shall be used to 
                provide loans to eligible entities for--
                            (i) community solar facilities; or
                            (ii) multi-family affordable housing solar 
                        installations.
                    (C) Grants.--After allocating amounts to carry out 
                subparagraph (B), the Secretary shall use the remaining 
                funds made available under subparagraph (A) for a 
                fiscal year to provide grants to eligible entities--
                            (i) to pay the upfront costs of 
                        photovoltaic solar electricity generating 
                        facilities installed on properties of grant-
                        eligible households; or
                            (ii) for any other eligible use described 
                        in subsection (e).
                    (D) Increase in grant amount.--Notwithstanding 
                subparagraph (A), if the Secretary determines that more 
                than 50 percent of the amounts described in that 
                subparagraph are necessary during any of fiscal years 
                2016 through 2030 to provide grants to encourage 
                innovative financing and installation models to reach 
                underserved markets, the Secretary may use more than 50 
                percent of those amounts to provide those grants.
            (3) Goals and accountability.--
                    (A) In general.--In providing loans and grants 
                under this subsection, the Secretary shall take such 
                actions as may be necessary to ensure that--
                            (i) the assistance provided under this 
                        subsection is used to facilitate and encourage 
                        innovative solar installation and financing 
                        models, under which the recipients develop and 
                        install photovoltaic solar electricity 
                        generating facilities that provide significant 
                        savings to low-income households while 
                        providing job training or community engagement 
                        opportunities with respect to each solar system 
                        installed;
                            (ii) loan and grant recipients shall--
                                    (I) have installed not less than 
                                600 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar 
                                energy during the 2-year period 
                                preceding the date on which the loan or 
                                grant is provided to ensure consumer 
                                protection; or
                                    (II) until the goal described in 
                                subclause (I) is achieved, enter into 
                                partnership with an entity that--
                                            (aa) has not less than 2 
                                        years of experience deploying 
                                        solar photovoltaic systems for 
                                        low-income households in a 
                                        manner that maximizes the 
                                        savings benefits of solar 
                                        access; and
                                            (bb) was primarily 
                                        responsible for the 
                                        installation of at least 2 
                                        megawatts of solar energy 
                                        during the 2-year period 
                                        preceding the date on which the 
                                        loan or grant is provided;
                            (iii) the photovoltaic solar electricity 
                        generating facilities installed using 
                        assistance provided under this subsection are 
                        safe, high-quality systems that comply with 
                        local building and safety codes and standards;
                            (iv) the provision of assistance under this 
                        subsection establishes and fosters a 
                        partnership between the Federal Government and 
                        eligible entities, resulting in efficient 
                        development of solar installations with--
                                    (I) minimal governmental 
                                intervention;
                                    (II) limited governmental 
                                regulation; and
                                    (III) significant involvement by 
                                nonprofit and private entities;
                            (v) solar projects installed using 
                        assistance provided under this subsection--
                                    (I) shall include job training; and
                                    (II) may include community 
                                participation in which job trainees and 
                                volunteers assist in the development of 
                                solar projects;
                            (vi) assistance provided under this 
                        subsection prioritizes development in--
                                    (I) areas with low photovoltaic 
                                penetration;
                                    (II) rural areas;
                                    (III) Indian tribal areas; and
                                    (IV) other underserved areas, 
                                including Alaskan Native and 
                                Appalachian communities;
                            (vii) solar systems are developed using 
                        assistance provided under this subsection on a 
                        geographically diverse basis among the eligible 
                        entities; and
                            (viii) to the maximum extent practicable, 
                        solar installation activities for which 
                        assistance is provided under this section 
                        leverage, or connect grant-eligible households 
                        to, federally or locally subsidized 
                        weatherization and energy efficiency efforts 
                        that meet or exceed local energy efficiency 
                        standards.
                    (B) Determination.--If, at any time, the Secretary 
                determines that the goals described in this paragraph 
                cannot be met by providing assistance in accordance 
                with this subsection, the Secretary shall immediately 
                submit to the appropriate committees of Congress a 
                written notice of that determination, including any 
                proposed changes necessary to achieve the goals under 
                this paragraph.
            (4) Community solar facilities.--
                    (A) In general.--A community solar facility may use 
                a loan provided under this subsection only to offset 
                the costs of generation and provision of solar energy 
                to low-income households that are subscribers of the 
                community solar facility.
                    (B) Transfer and assignment of subscriptions.--A 
                subscription to a community solar facility that 
                receives assistance under this subsection may be 
                transferred or assigned by the subscriber to--
                            (i) any subscriber organization; or
                            (ii) any individual or entity who qualifies 
                        to be a subscriber to that community solar 
                        facility.
                    (C) Treatment.--
                            (i) In general.--No owner, operator, or 
                        subscriber of a community solar facility that 
                        receives assistance under this subsection shall 
                        be subject to regulation by the Federal Energy 
                        Regulatory Commission solely as a result of an 
                        interest in the community solar facility.
                            (ii) Price of subscription.--The price paid 
                        for any subscription to a community solar 
                        facility shall not be subject to the regulation 
                        of any Federal department, agency, or 
                        commission.
    (c) National Competition.--
            (1) In general.--The Secretary shall select eligible 
        entities to receive loans or grants under this section through 
        a nationwide competitive process, to be established by the 
        Secretary.
            (2) Applications.--To be eligible to receive a loan or 
        grant under this section, an eligible entity shall submit to 
        the Secretary an application at such time, in such manner, and 
        containing such information as the Secretary may require.
            (3) Requirements.--In selecting eligible entities to 
        receive loans or grants under this section, the Secretary 
        shall, at a minimum--
                    (A) require that the eligible entity--
                            (i) enter into a grant or loan agreement, 
                        as applicable, under subsection (d); and
                            (ii) has obtained financial commitments (or 
                        has demonstrated the capacity to obtain 
                        financial commitments) necessary to comply with 
                        that agreement;
                    (B) ensure that loans and grants are provided, and 
                amounts are used, in a manner that results in 
                geographical diversity throughout the United States and 
                within States, territories, and Indian tribal land 
                among photovoltaic solar electricity generating 
                facilities installed using the assistance provided 
                under this section;
                    (C) to the maximum extent practicable, expand 
                photovoltaic solar energy availability to--
                            (i) geographical areas, throughout the 
                        United States and within States, territories, 
                        and Indian tribal land, with--
                                    (I) low photovoltaic solar 
                                penetration; or
                                    (II) areas with a higher cost 
                                burden with respect to the deployment 
                                or installation of photovoltaic solar 
                                electricity generating facilities;
                            (ii) rural communities;
                            (iii) Indian tribes; and
                            (iv) other underserved areas, including 
                        Appalachian and Alaska Native communities;
                    (D) take into account the warranty period and 
                quality of the applicable photovoltaic solar 
                electricity generating facility equipment and any 
                necessary interconnecting equipment; and
                    (E) ensure all calculations for estimated household 
                energy savings are based solely on electricity offsets 
                from the photovoltaic solar electricity generating 
                facilities.
    (d) Loan and Grant Agreements.--
            (1) In general.--As a condition of receiving a loan or 
        grant under this section, an eligible entity shall enter into a 
        loan or grant agreement, as applicable, with the Secretary.
            (2) Requirements.--A loan or grant agreement under this 
        subsection shall--
                    (A) require the eligible entity--
                            (i) to use the assistance provided under 
                        this section only in accordance with this 
                        section;
                            (ii) to install such number of solar 
                        systems with such defined capacity target 
                        (expressed in megawatts) as may be established 
                        by the Secretary, taking into consideration the 
                        costs associated with carrying out loan or 
                        grant obligations in the areas in which the 
                        solar systems will be developed;
                            (iii) to use the assistance in a manner 
                        that leverages other sources of funding (other 
                        than loans or grants under this section), 
                        including private or public funds, in 
                        developing the solar projects; and
                            (iv) to establish loan terms, if 
                        applicable, that maximize the benefit to the 
                        low-income households receiving solar energy 
                        from the eligible entity;
                    (B) require the Secretary to rescind any amounts 
                provided to the eligible entity that are not used 
                during the 2-year period beginning on the date on which 
                the amounts are initially distributed to the eligible 
                entity, except in any case in which the eligible entity 
                has demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Secretary 
                that a longer period, not to exceed 3 years after the 
                date of initial distribution, is necessary to deliver 
                proposed services;
                    (C) for a loan provided under this section, 
                establish--
                            (i) an interest rate equal to the then-
                        current cost of funds to the Department of the 
                        Treasury for obligations of comparable maturity 
                        to the loan; and
                            (ii) a payout time that maximizes the 
                        savings to customers during the effective 
                        period of the agreement; and
                    (D) contain such other terms as the Secretary may 
                require to ensure compliance with the requirements of 
                this section.
    (e) Use.--An eligible entity shall use a loan or grant provided 
under this section only for the following activities, for the purpose 
of developing new photovoltaic solar projects in the United States for 
low-income households and individuals who otherwise would likely be 
unable to afford or purchase photovoltaic solar systems:
            (1) Photovoltaic solar equipment and installation.--To pay 
        the costs of--
                    (A) solar equipment, including only photovoltaic 
                solar equipment and storage and all hardware or 
                software components relating to safely producing, 
                monitoring, and connecting the system to the electric 
                grid or onsite storage; and
                    (B) installation, including all direct labor 
                associated with installing the photovoltaic solar 
                equipment.
            (2) Job training.--To fund onsite job training and 
        community or volunteer engagement, including--
                    (A) only job training costs directly associated 
                with the solar projects funded under this section; and
                    (B) job training opportunities that may cover the 
                full range of the solar value chain, such as marketing 
                and outreach, customer acquisition, system design, and 
                installation positions.
            (3) Deployment support.--To fund entities that have a 
        demonstrated ability, as determined by the Secretary--
                    (A) to advise State and local entities regarding 
                low-income solar policy, regulatory, and program design 
                to continue and expand the work of the entities;
                    (B) to foster community outreach and education 
                regarding the benefits of photovoltaic solar energy for 
                low-income and disadvantaged communities; or
                    (C) to provide apprenticeship program opportunities 
                registered and approved by--
                            (i) the Office of Apprenticeship of the 
                        Department of Labor pursuant to part 29 of 
                        title 29, Code of Federal Regulations (or 
                        successor regulations); or
                            (ii) a State Apprenticeship Agency 
                        recognized by that Office.
            (4) Administration.--To pay the administrative expenses of 
        the eligible entity, including preproject feasibility efforts, 
        in carrying out the duties of the Secretary associated with 
        delivering proposed services, subject to the requirement that 
        not more than 15 percent of the total amount of the assistance 
        provided to the eligible entity under this section may be used 
        for administrative expenses.
    (f) Compliance.--
            (1) Records and audits.--During the period beginning on the 
        date of initial distribution to an eligible entity of a loan or 
        grant under this section and ending on the termination date of 
        the loan or grant under subsection (g), the eligible entity 
        shall maintain such records and adopt such administrative 
        practices as the Secretary may require to ensure compliance 
        with the requirements of this section and the applicable loan 
        or grant agreement.
            (2) Determination by secretary.--If the Secretary 
        determines that an eligible entity that receives a grant or 
        loan under this section has not, during the 2-year period 
        beginning on the date of initial distribution to the eligible 
        entity of the assistance (or such longer period as is 
        established under subsection (d)(2)(B)), substantially 
        fulfilled the obligations of the eligible entity under the 
        applicable loan or grant agreement, the Secretary shall--
                    (A) rescind the balance of any funds distributed 
                to, but not used by, the eligible entity under this 
                section; and
                    (B) use those amounts to provide other loans or 
                grants in accordance with this section.
    (g) Termination.--The Secretary shall terminate a loan or grant 
provided under this section on a determination that the total amount of 
the loan or grant (excluding any interest, fees, and other earnings of 
the loan or grant) has been--
            (1) fully expended by the eligible entity; or
            (2) returned to the Secretary.
    (h) Regulations.--Not later than 90 days after the date of 
enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall promulgate such regulations 
as the Secretary determines to be necessary to carry out this section, 
to take effect on the date of promulgation.
    (i) Funding.--There is authorized to be appropriated to the 
Secretary to carry out this section $200,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2016 through 2030, to remain available until expended.
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