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Solar for Schools

Frequently Asked Questions

Comprehensive Questions and Answers - Solar for Schools Grant Application 

Do we have to make a final decision on our system size as part of the Readiness Assessment?
Schools must make a size determination prior to submitting their Readiness Assessment so the Department can effectively encumber funds. Significant changes to system sizes must be petitioned for by providing details and justification in the Full Grant Application. If a petition request is denied, applicants may move forward with the original system and grant size or may withdraw their application and submit an updated Readiness Assessment in a subsequent funding round.

How can I learn more about all the changes that took effect since January 1, 2024?
Review the Department’s January 2024 Program Updates Slide Deck and July 2024 Program Updates Slide Deck [COMING SOON] to explore the most recent program changes.

What is the timeline for the installation of the project?
Grantees have 18 months from the Contract Effective Date to complete all Grantee Duties, including the milestone check-in forms. Full details, including milestone deadlines, can be found in Exhibit A – Grantee Duties of your SFS grant contract, as well as in the online application through your GIW account.

Please note, while these forms each individually have deadlines, Grantees should not wait until these dates to submit forms but rather, must submit them as each step is being completed, not all at once when the entire project is complete.

UPDATE: If our district has schools both within as well as outside Xcel Energy electric service territory, which grant cap applies?
For these districts, the larger cap ($675,000) may apply if the application(s) meet the following criteria. Grant funds for projects that would exceed the standard $500,000 cap must only be used on district schools in Xcel Energy service territory for systems larger than 40kWac. An Applicant may be required to petition for this cap increase up to the $675,000. See the Comprehensive Q&A Q14 and Q15 for further details.

How does a district petition the Department for an increase to their cap if they are eligible?
Districts will indicate their petition request as part of the Readiness Assessment(s) and must additionally specify the utility and grant request for each application in the current funding round, list any previous SFS grants, if applicable, (including installation location, utility, and final grant value(s)). A signed letter must also be submitted as part of the Readiness Assessment(s) by the district’s authorized representative verifying this information and making it clear that the petition request is being led and submitted by the school district. Districts and associated application(s) must maintain eligibility through the Full Grant Application. The approved funds above the standard cap must only be used for projects within Xcel territory larger than 40kWac.

We heard that schools are now eligible to receive a tax credit for installing solar. Where can we find more information?
Through the Inflation Reduction Act, schools are now eligible to receive a federal solar tax credit of up to 30+ percent of the cost for systems installed starting January 1, 2023. Bonus credits are available for domestic consumption, community energy, and low-income designated areas/projects. Explore resources put together by UndauntedK12: (1) Schools and the IRA, (2) Getting Started, and (3) July 2024 Minnesota Schools and IRA presentation.

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