US DoE Announces Community Energy Innovation Prize Winners

The U.S. Department of Energy on March 26 went on to announce that 23 teams have won the CONCEPT Phase when it comes to the American-Made Community Energy Innovation Prize in the Clean Energy Ecosystem and Manufacturing Ecosystem Tracks. Apparently, each team has been awarded $100,000 in prize money and will also receive in-kind mentorship along with other support services all across the subsequent prize phases.

The Community Energy Innovation Prize goes on to support capacity building, innovation, entrepreneurship, as well as economic development that’s related to clean energy as well as climate for disadvantaged communities that’s in sync with the Justice40 Initiative. The prize happens to have three tracks, each having varied goals and submission needs: Collegiate, Clean Energy Ecosystem along with Manufacturing Ecosystem. The winners of the Collegiate Track’s CONCEPT Phase happened to be announced in December 2023.

According to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Jeff Marootian, local energy transitions happen to be the most successful when they get led by the community members themselves, but they do understand funding is often an obstacle, specifically for communities that have been underserved or disproportionately impacted historically due to climate change. That is why they go ahead and offer prizes as a low-barrier-to-entry way for communities in order to get the support they require. Notably, they were blown away by way of creativity along with the rigor seen in the impact plans of such kind of winning teams, and they look forward to witnessing the results when it comes to their efforts.

It is well to be noted that in the two Ecosystem Tracks, competitors went ahead and submitted impact plans, thereby detailing the work they look forward to accomplishing in the following prize phases.

In the Clean Energy Ecosystem Track, impact plans may go on to include clean energy education, workforce development initiatives, community initiatives, or even plans to roll out clean energy technologies. When it came to the Manufacturing Ecosystem Track, competitors were asked to come up with ideas around manufacturing-related education, entrepreneurship, resilient supply chains, etc. Competitors across both tracks were needed to focus their impact plans when it came to engaging with as well as benefitting underserved communities.

CONCEPT Phase Winners when it comes to the Clean Energy Ecosystem Track:

• East Phillips Neighborhood Institute- EPNI and Cooperative Energy Futures- CEF in Minneapolis, Minnesota

• Pomona, CA – Direct-to-Renter Clean Energy Program at Pomona, California

• Convivencia Hispana Energy Navigators at St. James, Minnesota

• Project:HOMES at Tangier, Virginia

• Team Bean in New Orleans, Louisiana

• People Power: Energy Security and Ownership at Fort Smith, Arkansas

• Innovate Gloucester in Gloucester, Massachusetts

• Community Through Colors at Isabel Segunda, Vieques, Puerto Rico

• LEI Foundation Energize Waianae Moku at Wai’anae, Hawaii

• RESCo Innovation Team at Rosebud Sioux Reservation, South Dakota

• Requity Foundation in Baltimore, Maryland

• Shake Energy Collaborative at Honolulu and Wai’anae, Hawaii

• First State Community Green Energy Coalition from Wilmington to New Castle, Delaware

CONCEPT Phase Winners when it comes to the Manufacturing Ecosystem Track:

• Clean Tech Innovation Network in Chicago, Illinois

• CEIP Warren at Warren, Ohio

• Metals Innovation Initiative- MI2 in four counties in Kentucky

• PDX Clean Industry Network in Portland, Oregon

• IMPACTT at Evansville, Indiana

• Green Leap Riverside in Riverside County, California

• Scale for ClimateTech in New York

• Eighth Generation Consulting at the Osage Territory, Pawhuska, Oklahoma

• APLUS in Arlington, Texas

• Southland Development Authority Team at Tinley Park, Illinois

Notably, these teams are going to move on to the PROGRESS Phase of the prize, where they will go on to execute their planned community projects. At the end of this particular phase in July 2024, teams will go ahead and report on their progress and will also be eligible for another $100,000 in prize money in addition to continued mentorship services. The winning teams will then go ahead and move on to the IMPACT phase, where they will present their program accomplishments at one of the final events in December 2024.

It is worth noting that the Community Energy Innovation Prize happens to be a part of DOE’s American Made program and happens to be administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.