Federal Funding for Energy Work at Houses of Worship
Prepare to Apply for Federal Grants and Tax Credits
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) that was signed into law in August 2022 included the greatest investment in climate care provisions in history.
The climate care provisions in the IRA are historic and are imperative in addressing the urgent moral issue of climate justice. The new law puts the nation on the path to cut greenhouse gas emissions up to 44% by 2030, while saving thousands of lives, creating millions of good-paying clean energy jobs, investing in environmental justice, and reducing energy bills for working families across the country.
Included in the IRA, are clean energy tax credits for wind and solar, EVs, efficiency upgrades, heat pumps, and much more for nonprofits.
With the passage of the IRA, nonprofits and houses of worship now have easier access to clean energy funds and tax credits through a program called “direct pay.” Before the IRA, only homeowners and commercial entities with some tax liability could claim tax credits when installing solar panels, wind turbines, or other eligible technologies on an eligible property. Now, the “direct pay” option means non-taxable entities can also benefit from these credits.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law in November 2021 also provided some investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase resilience to climate impacts.
The IIJA provides the Department of Energy with $50 million over five years for a new program, the “energy efficiency materials pilot program” for nonprofit organizations. This program will provide grants of up to $200,000 to nonprofits to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. This program is currently still being developed but it’s expected that by February 2023 program details will be available.
As people of faith and conscience, this is our opportunity to help bring about a just transition to a clean energy economy based on the values we all share: caring for one another and for our common home.
Faith communities can leverage these new or expanded federal programs for energy and resiliency improvements.
Information About Federal Energy Grant and Tax Credits Opportunities
Federal agencies are still in the process of developing the guidance and programs created or expanded by the IRA and IIJA.
- This faith community resource spreadsheet can help you identify federal grant and tax credit opportunities that are available and will be kept up to date as new program guidance becomes available.
- Environmental and Energy Study Insitute Energy Efficiency for Nonprofits page
- Federal solar tax credits for nonprofits from the Federal Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewables, updated April 2023.
- Timeline for announcing guidelines on accessing benefits. Clean vehicle guidelines were announced in April 2023, “Energy Communities” guidelines are coming next, then “domestic content” guidelines, and after that are “direct pay” and “transferability”. Direct pay and transferability guidelines will give congregations the information they need to access federal benefits. So stay tuned to this page for new information.
Preparing to Apply for Federal Grants and Tax Credits
It’s expected that by February 2023 more of the federal program details will be available. Until then, there are a few things you can do to help prepare.
- Benchmark your buildings – line up 12 months of utility bills, find out the construction date of your building, track occupancy rates, and use IPL’s Cool Congregations Calculator to learn more about your congregation’s carbon footprint.
- Learn what other sources of funding you can leverage to go along with the federal funding – state, local, and utility. Research your own denomination’s sources for funding for building improvements, for instance, the United Church of Christ Cornerstone Fund serves all congregations even if they are not UCC.
So plan ahead to take advantage of “direct pay” and be part of creating thriving, healthy, and sustainable communities.
IPL and our partners are hosting briefings that provide updates on these federal programs, how congregations can use them, and how to apply December 2022 through the spring of 2023. Make sure you’re on our email list to receive the event notifications or check back on our events page.
Recording of the December 8th webinar: Federal Funding Resources for Nonprofits and Houses of Worship Briefing
Recording of February 21st webinar: Planning the Energy Future of Your Congregation
IPL Factsheet on Federal Funding Opportunities for Faith Communities
Oportunidades de Subvención Federal Para las Comunidades de fe
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