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PNS Daily Newscast - June 23, 2017 


Today on the rundown: the Senate GOP releases a draft of their health-care bill; Tropical Storm Cindy is bringing heavy rainfall to the South; and could Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ “tough on drugs” approach fuel mass incarceration?

Daily Newscasts

Contestants Bringing Solar Power to Low-Income Neighborhoods

The U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring a renewable-energy contest with $1 million in prize money. (lbl.gov)
The U.S. Department of Energy is sponsoring a renewable-energy contest with $1 million in prize money. (lbl.gov)
May 3, 2017

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Low- and moderate-income households represent 40 percent of America's population, but less than 5 percent of all solar customers.

A national competition is underway to expand solar electricity access to low-income communities. Forty-eight teams from 23 states and Washington, D.C., have been selected to compete for $1 million in prize money.

It's sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative and run by SUNY Polytechnic University, where Michael Fancher – executive director of SUNY Polytechnic's Center for Advanced Technology in Nano Materials and Nano Electronics – said to win, teams must develop a business plan that will work in under-served communities.

"So that, long after the program, you have a vibrant community of these professionals able to continue and incorporate what they've learned from each other," said Fancher, "and replicating that in other low- and moderate-income communities."

Several teams from Illinois got seed money to put together a plan, but only one was selected as a finalist. Net Positive for All in Chicago will put a solar project together over the next 18 months. It must directly benefit low- and moderate-income households, local governments or nonprofits.

According to Fancher, the idea is to match solar installers with agencies that want to make the move to renewable energy.

"Getting the network activated, and then working with the not-for-profit community and the other participants in the low- and moderate-income communities, is really kind of the focus of this program," he said, "and you can see that in the allocation of its funding."

There's a grand prize of $500,000, with other awards of $100,000 and $200,000.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IL