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Community Power Accelerator Prize

Fast-tracks the efforts of solar developers to learn and grow their operations to support multiple, successful community solar projects.
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$10,000,000
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Summary

Community Power AcceleratorTM Prize 

The American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize is a $10 million prize competition designed to fast-track the efforts of new, emerging, and expanding solar developers and co-developers to learn, participate, and grow their operations to support multiple successful community solar projects

The goal of this prize is to grow a robust ecosystem of community solar project developers that incorporate meaningful benefits into projects across the United States.

Structured to Accelerate Community Solar Investments

This three-phase prize aims to increase the number of equitable community solar projects by providing funding and resources for developers and co-developers throughout the project pre-development process, including: 

  • Tools and resources to connect developers with private sector project financing for community solar projects using a standardized process.
  • Training to understand the full cycle of community solar development, including site acquisition, community relations, customer acquisition, securing financing, costs, and the unique challenges and benefits of a community solar model.
  • Free consulting services to competitors on the steps necessary to get a community solar project financed.
  • Coaching on expanding developers’ solar customer markets to include low- and moderate-income populations, disadvantaged communities, and local workforce development, as well as increase resilience to power outages and household savings to make community solar projects attractive to the widest range of customers possible.  

By the end of the prize, competitors will be ready to engage with the Community Power Accelerator online platform, which provides a place for competitors to shop their credit-ready projects around to verified project developers, investors, and philanthropic organizations.

Informational Webinar

Join us for an informational webinar to learn more about the Community Power Accelerator Prize: 

  • Feb. 1, 12 p.m. ET - Register Here
    • During the webinar we’ll give participants an overview of the Community Power Accelerator Prize, submission requirements, scoring criteria, and winner selection process. Competitors will also have an opportunity to ask questions.

 

Community Power Accelerator Prize Phases

Prize Phase

Duration

Anticipated Number of Awards

Dollar Amounts 

Phase 1: Ready!

2 Months

Up to 25, 

with an expected range of 15-25

$50,000 per winning competitor 

(total prize pool: $1,250,000)

Phase 2: Set! 

6 months (anticipated)

Up to 25, 

with an expected range of 15-20

$200,000 per winning competitor 

(total prize pool: $5,000,000)

Phase 3: Grow!

6 months (anticipated)

Up to 25, 

with an expected range of 10-20

$150,000 per winning competitor

(total prize pool: $3,750,000)

 

The Five Meaningful Benefits of Community Solar

One of the key goals of the Community Power Accelerator Prize is to support and grow a robust ecosystem of community solar project developers that incorporate meaningful benefits into projects across the United States.These benefits provided by community solar subscriptions can build consumer trust and ensure that everyone can participate in the clean energy transition. 

The Community Power Accelerator Prize provides funding and resources to empower developers to deploy community solar projects that provide at least two of the following five meaningful benefits to subscribers and their communities:

  • Low- to moderate-income (LMI) household access
  • Greater household savings
  • Resilience and grid benefits
  • Community ownership
  • Equitable workforce development

Powering Change Beyond the Prize

This prize is part of the larger Community Power Accelerator program, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy National Community Solar Partnership. It brings together investors, philanthropic organizations, developers, community-based organizations, and technical experts in one online ecosystem to accelerate the deployment of the funds needed to drive a more equitable clean energy transition. 

The Community Power Accelerator online platform will create a pipeline of credit-ready community solar projects—particularly those that provide benefits to underserved communities—and connect them with mission-aligned investors and philanthropic organizations to get funding.

The prize supports this initiative by providing funding and resources to stand up or expand community solar project development practices and develop a pipeline of multiple projects for new community solar project developers.

 

Who Can Compete? 

The Community Power Accelerator Prize is open to U.S. community solar developers, including new developers, co-developers (organizations who are partnering with a project developer), or developers who are expanding their community solar operations. 

The prize encourages organizations who are new to community solar development to apply to this prize, including (but are not limited to): 

  • Multifamily affordable housing providers
  • Community and economic development organizations 
  • Intermediary organizations such as community development financial institutions
  • Community-based organizations that have real estate portfolios and/or are in construction 
  • General contractors with roofing and/or electrical experience  
  • Traditional solar project developers who are looking to expand into the community solar space
  • Socially and economically disadvantaged individual (SEDI) demographics-related business and women and minority-owned businesses. 
  • Other large real estate holders that could be available for solar deployment

Challenge Guidelines

Please review the official rules for the complete application process and instructions for competing.

If you want to receive updates on the prize or have any questions, please subscribe by using the contact feature on the HeroX platform or message us directly at .

The American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize is a $10 million prize competition designed to fast-track the efforts of new, emerging, and expanding solar developers and co-developers to learn, participate, and grow their operations to support multiple successful community solar projects The American-Made Solar Prize is directed and administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. Learn more.

Timeline
Updates2

Challenge Updates

Responses Due Feb 9: Technical Assistance Sources Sought for Buildings UP

Jan. 26, 2023, 12:08 p.m. PST by NREL Challenge

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) is seeking subcontractors to provide technical assistance and act as “Regional Navigators” for Buildings UP teams. A Sources Sought Notice (SSN) has been publicly posted here.

As described in the SSN, if you are interested we encourage you to fill out the SSN Microsoft form by February 9, 2023. Only organizations that fill out the form are eligible to receive a formal Request for Proposal (RFP).

The Buildings Upgrade Prize is seeking Technical Assistance Providers and Regional Navigators to support the program areas such as:

  • Project financing
  • Project aggregation and customer acquisition
  • Equipment ownership structures
  • Soft cost reduction
  • Workforce training
  • Contractor development
  • Alignment with affordable housing constraints
  • Communications
  • Community engagement
  • Project delivery

Subcontracted technical assistance providers and Regional Navigators will be ineligible to participate on Buildings UP teams, but as filling out the SSN form is only a preliminary step that expresses interest, we encourage you to fill it out even if you are uncertain of your ultimate plan to join a competing team, or to be a technical assistance provider or Regional Navigator. If you are selected through the RFP process but have decided to compete on a Buildings UP team, you may withdraw from the RFP process at any point prior to the contract acceptance deadline.

We hope you consider responding to this SSN!


Learn More About the Community Power Accelerator Prize at the Informational Webinar

Jan. 23, 2023, 8:11 a.m. PST by NREL Challenge

Join Community Power Accelerator Prize administrators on Feb. 1 for an informational webinar on the new $10 million competition and how you can get involved! 

The Community Power Accelerator Prize is designed to fast-track the efforts of new, emerging, and expanding solar developers and co-developers to learn, participate, and grow their operations to support multiple successful community solar projects. During the three-phase competition, competitors will craft project proposals, participate in online learning, and secure investment commitments.  


Register now for the informational webinar on Feb. 1 at 12 p.m. ET to hear first-hand from prize administrators about eligibility, deadlines, and submission requirements, and get your questions answered! We hope to see you there. 


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