Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City BIPOC-owned Westside businesses to receive funding to go solar

November 16, 2022

A year-long effort to create solutions for Black-, Indigenous-, and People of Color- (BIPOC) owned businesses on the Westside of Salt Lake City to pursue rooftop solar and battery storage has received a significant boost thanks to a commitment from American Express.

American Express recently announced a $5 million global commitment to help cities build resiliency and fight climate change ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference which took place in Egypt last week. The Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN) has been awarded $1.2 million to work with three cities, including Salt Lake City, to install solar energy systems in our community.

American Express will provide $325,000 in philanthropic support to complement other incentives and financial strategies to help install solar with optional battery systems for small businesses on the Westside. These systems can lower energy costs for residents and businesses, can be more resilient than standard electric sources during extreme weather, support local clean energy jobs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“I’m thrilled with American Express’ generosity, which will build off the hard work our City team and partners have done to advance solar on our Westside,” said Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall. “We have the tools to reduce climate emissions, strengthen community resiliency, and save our businesses and residents money through clean energy, and this collaboration is a perfect demonstration of that.”

The American Express funding builds off a partnership between the Salt Lake City Sustainability Department and local non-profit Utah Clean Energy who are working together to advance commercial rooftop solar and battery back-up systems for small commercial properties on Salt Lake City’s Westside. That project, announced earlier this year, is through the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN) in the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The SEIN project brings together technical experts with a diverse group of community partners and Westside businesses to identify challenges, opportunities, and next steps to increase the amount of solar on rooftops across a range of commercial properties. This includes hosting community listening sessions, producing case studies, creating culturally relevant outreach tools, and recommending battery storage incentive programs and other clean energy funding mechanisms to support solar in underserved communities and for BIPOC-owned businesses.

The SEIN project did not include funding to support these businesses in deploying solar. Salt Lake City has continued to explore partnerships, grants, and other financial tools to help bridge the gap, and is thrilled to find a partner in the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and American Express.

The company’s generosity will help support Westside Salt Lake City businesses identified through the SEIN project to go solar. The USDN will manage the grant on behalf of this project.

The SEIN project will be completed in May 2023 and solar deployments will occur throughout next year. The goal is to financially support the installation of solar plus storage systems at up to five anchor businesses or nonprofits on the Westside.

Learn More:

American Express Press Release:

Solar Energy Innovation Network Press Release:

Urban Sustainability Directors Network:

Utah Clean Energy:

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