US DOE Solar in Your Community Challenge
The SunShot Prize: Solar in Your Community Challenge is a prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access to all Americans, especially underserved segments such as low- and moderate-income (LMI) households state, local, and tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations. In order to make solar more accessible and inclusive for every American, the Challenge works to spur the development of new and innovative financial and business models that serve non-rooftop solar users such as community solar.
Offering $5 million in cash prizes and technical assistance over 18 months, the Challenge supports teams across the country to develop projects or programs that expand solar access to underserved groups, while proving that these business models can be widely replicated and adopted by similar groups.
Participation in the Challenge is open to:
- Teams working to develop a portfolio of solar projects in their communities or create new solar programs that extend solar access to LMI households and nonprofits; and
- Technical assistance providers (consultants and coaches) that assist teams throughout the 18-month challenge by providing the coaching and resources teams need to create innovative new business models.
The Solar in Your Community Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative and administered by The State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute. Visit the Challenge website to learn more, apply, and get involved.
STRUCTURE AND PRIZES
Teams selected to participate in the challenge may receive three distinct types of awards: seed awards, technical assistance vouchers, and final prizes.
Teams will compete to win $1 million in Final Prizes, including a $500,000 Grand Prize for success in demonstrating a replicable and scalable model for low income solar. In addition, selected teams will receive approximately 50 cash seed awards totaling $2 million, and benefit from technical assistance resources and mentoring worth an additional $2 million. Teams will be evaluated based on their innovation, impact, expertise, team composition, plan, and progress. As teams are selected, seed awards (up to $60,000 per team) will be disbursed in increments based on completed milestones over an 18-month performance period.
In addition to final prizes, technical assistance providers (consultants and coaches) will be compensated depending on the extent to which challenge teams choose to use their services throughout the 18-month performance period.
Learn more about the prizes on the Challenge’s website.
Competing teams need to design and deploy new and scalable business and financial models through the demonstration of solar projects and programs in their communities. These projects and programs must directly benefit:
- LMI households, with at least 20% of the energy and benefits assigned to LMI households; or
- Non-profit organizations; state, local, or tribal governments; or community service organizations, with at least 60% of the energy and benefits assigned to one of these types of entities.
Photovoltaic (PV) systems must be completed during the 18-month performance period and should aggregate between 25 and 5,000 kilowatts (peak DC capacity). A single entity cannot not be assigned more than 1,000 kilowatts from a single solar energy system.
While 20% LMI customers is the minimum, teams with over 50% LMI customers will receive a bonus cash prize. DOE will also show preference for teams that aim to reach 100% LMI households or have 100% of the energy benefit nonprofit/governmental organizations as outlined in the evaluation criteria for winning prizes.