The 23 selected communities will work with DOE, its national labs and other experts, government and non-governmental partners, community-based organizations, and utilities, as well as environmental, economic development, and equity organizations to develop roadmaps for clean energy economic development pathways. The communities will pursue strategies for planning and investment in:

  • Energy efficient buildings and beneficial electrification 
  • Clean energy development 
  • Clean transportation and enhanced mobility 
  • Carbon capture and storage 
  • Critical minerals recovery 
  • Resilient microgrids and energy storage 
  • Manufacturing and industry opportunities 
A map of the United States, showing all 22 communities for the Communities LEAP pilot program.

ALACHUA COUNTY, FLORIDA

A photo of the community of Alachua County, Florida

Alachua County, in north-central Florida, has a rural heritage and cosmopolitan heart. Project EMPOWER—Energy Modernization for People, Opportunity, Work, Equity, and Renewables—will build on community goals for 100% renewable energy with a focus on marginalized communities within the Gainesville, Florida Metropolitan Area that are experiencing economic challenges, including the Greater Duval neighborhood—one of the area’s first single-family African American communities. With supportive technical assistance, the Project EMPOWER team will work to ensure the County's most vulnerable communities participate in and benefit from the transition to clean energy, with an explicit focus on reducing inequitable energy burdens and increasing utility resilience in low-income neighborhoods that are racial and ethnically diverse.

BAKERSFIELD, CALIFORNIA

A photo of the community of Bakersfield, CA

The City of Bakersfield is in Kern County, California, where agriculture and oil and gas production drive the economy. Kern County is the 2nd highest producing agricultural region in the United States with 20% of its jobs directly related to agriculture. In addition, Bakersfield has some of the worst air quality in U.S. metropolitan areas. Many of Kern County’s low-income residents are employed in the agricultural sector, which does not yet have a decarbonization plan that includes the perspective of local workers.  The team will explore cost-effective strategies and technologies to decarbonize farming and ranching operations and identify value-added agricultural product manufacturing opportunities specific to Kern County crops and livestock. The City of Bakersfield will also pursue reducing energy burden and costs that are disproportionately affecting low- and middle-income families. 

NORTH BIRMINGHAM, ALABAMA

A photo of the community of North Birmingham, AL

Building on the City of Birmingham’s Vision 2025 Plan, the team will develop restorative, environmental justice strategies for incentivizing energy efficient building programs in the North Birmingham Community to reduce energy burden and create new jobs for residents to strengthen the relationship between local employers and the community’s workforce. In addition, the team will work to identify opportunities for clean, low-emission transportation options for the North Birmingham Community. 

COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA

a photo of downtown Columbia, SC

The Columbia, South Carolina Ready For 100 program, guided by City staff and the Climate Protection Action Committee, commits the city to achieve 100% clean and renewable energy for all citizens by 2036, and to assure that the benefits of clean energy are equitably distributed to the city’s residents and businesses.  In Columbia, low-income residents, most of whom are renters, are disproportionately affected by high electricity costs. Addressing the energy burden of low-income renters in multi-family housing, including public housing, provides an opportunity for an electrified and clean housing future.  The Columbia team will identify pathways most likely to deliver on the promise of lowered energy burdens in the design of the city’s 100% renewable energy future based on the community's values, its residents' pocketbooks, the City’s treasury, and the State of South Carolina’s energy goals.

COLUMBIA RIVER INTERTRIBAL FISH COMMISSION

a photo of several people working in a field, with a wind turbine in the background.

The Columbia River Treaty Tribes in the Pacific Northwest—the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs and Yakama—hold treaty-reserved fishing rights that have been heavily impacted by energy development in the Columbia River Basin. The Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission is updating its Energy Vision for the Columbia River Basin, which will consider energy futures forecasted by regional planning organizations. The Commission's member tribes will meaningfully engage with these planning organizations and other decision makers in support of a future where the Columbia Basin electric power system supports healthy and harvestable fish and wildlife populations, protects tribal treaty and cultural resources, and provides clean, reliable, and affordable electricity.  

DULUTH, MINNESOTA

A photo of the community from Duluth, MN’s

Duluth, Minnesota’s Lincoln Park Neighborhood (LNPK) on Lake Superior is an archetypal cold climate rust belt community that, in many ways, serves as a microcosm for the challenges and opportunities related to clean energy transitions—especially the need to address legacy infrastructure. The community includes the Duluth port operations, light and heavy manufacturing, regional sewer treatment, a traditional Main Street business district, old housing stock, and heavy highway infrastructure. LNPK is a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Desert, was determined by Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development to be the state’s Most Impacted and Distressed area with Unmet Recovery Needs, and is also an Internal Revenue Service and U.S. Department of Treasury designated Opportunity Zone.  The LNPK team will create economic success and reduce environmental burden for residents, small businesses, and industry by proactively developing pathways to a low-carbon, clean energy future.

HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA

Two people riding bikes in Hennepin County, MN

Hennepin County, Minnesota is seat to the cities of Brooklyn Park and Minneapolis. These communities, along with the broader metropolitan region, and the state of Minnesota, are all working to plan for transportation electrification, and all have a desire to prioritize communities that score high on vulnerability indices and are overly reliant on fossil-fuelled personal vehicles. As a result, across scales of government there is tremendous appetite to site charging infrastructure in overlapping locations. However, there is a notable absence of direct engagement with those who live in these areas.  The project team will directly engage with residents to explore potential electric mobility solutions (including passenger vehicles, e-mobility, car- and ride-share services, and supporting charging infrastructure) and develop a set of transportation electrification priorities and principles. The efforts will serve as a blueprint for additional local, state, regional and utility transportation electrification planning including for EV charging infrastructure scheduled to be built.

HIGHLAND PARK, MICHIGAN

community members from highland park, MI testing solar panels.

Highland Park, Michigan is a historic city of three-square miles completely surrounded by Detroit. It is a disinvested and racially segregated community that ranks in the 94th percentile for low-income status in the United States and where 45% of the population lives at or below the poverty line. The community is in an energy crisis; roughly two-thirds of residents live without streetlights. While the city has continued to seek funding to get the lights replaced, the local Highland Park-based Soulardarity, a community action group, installed 17 solar streetlights to mitigate the loss of units and to restore the necessary street lighting. The majority of those solar units were placed in two local residential communities, Avalon and Parker Villages, home to Highland Parker-led sustainable community developments. The multi-stakeholder team—with engagement from Highland Park residents and city government—will partner with DOE to pursue a path toward 100% local, clean, renewable energy. The team will build on shared experience with its Pathways to Power project to advance a clean, efficient and resilient energy future for all Highland Parkers and realize transformational impacts related to energy affordability, community climate resilience, local economic empowerment, and the health and wellness of local residents.

IOWA TRIBE OF KANSAS AND NEBRASKA (ITKN)

a water tower, with the words "Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska"

The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska (ITKN) faces electricity service delivery issues because the reservation is at the end of their utility’s service line. This isolation also creates a lack of local services and barriers to economic resources that prevent tribal members from accessing support from outside the reservation service area. The ITKN seeks to promote social welfare and community development in ways that enable the Tribe to be self-sufficient and provide long-term economic and energy security for reservation citizens. 

JACKSON COUNTY, ILLINOIS

A photo of the community of Jackson County, IL planting a tree.

Jackson County, Illinois is a designated Economic Development Agency Persistent Poverty County and suffers from declining population and disproportionate environmental injustice. Led by Southern Illinois University Carbondale—a nationally ranked public research university and regional economic catalyst—the team is a coalition of 16 community partners, including community organizations focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion. The team will solidify community partnerships and develop a consensus-based, achievable roadmap for clean energy and economic development in Jackson County. The Jackson County team is committed to making the transition to clean energy and sees opportunities in the areas of solar energy, agriculture, energy efficiency, energy storage, and the electrification of buildings and transportation. The team anticipates development in these areas will bring much needed new jobs to the community, will reduce energy cost burden for public agencies, non-profits, businesses, renters, and homeowners alike—keeping more money within the community—and will improve health by reducing pollution.

KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA

The Kern County, CA logo

Kern County covers more than 8,000 square miles and includes valley, mountain and desert regions. Its economy is centered on agriculture, oil and gas production, and renewable energy with the top 10 taxpayers being oil and gas companies, mining, and agricultural companies. Kern County has been identified as a prime geologic CO2 storage resource that can support California’s goal of being carbon neutral by 2045. Kern County hopes to establish a Clean Energy and Carbon Management Hub to sustain private investment, generate new jobs and tax revenue, and implement workforce development training opportunities for high-quality jobs benefitting lower-income communities.

LAWRENCE, MASSACHUSETTS

A photo of downtown Lawrence, MA

In 2018, a series of gas fires and explosions—the result of gas line over pressurization—caused more than 15,000 residents of Lawrence, Massachusetts and nearby Andover and North Andover to evacuate their homes, with recovery efforts taking months. Lawrence is the quintessential energy justice community, with large communities of color and immigrant populations, and many residents experiencing low incomes and linguistic isolation. The team will explore opportunities in electrification and renewable energy for the residents and businesses in the Lawrence community—specifically the distribution and use of sustainable technologies such as heat pumps and community/rooftop solar. Increasing the accessibility of these sustainability measures and providing equitable opportunity for historically underserved populations is essential to continued community development. 

LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY

a photo of downtown Louisville, KY

Environmental injustice has been a part of Louisville, Kentucky’s history since its earliest days and was exacerbated by public health issues caused by the booming coal industry in the late 1800s. The subsequent concentration of oil, plastic, chemical, and rubber industries in west Louisville, followed by historic redlining of communities of color, has created disparities by exposing people to environmental health hazards on the basis of race and income. In Louisville, where one lives matters and can mean a difference of 13 years in life expectancy. Building on existing climate, resilience and development plans and progress toward achieving 100% clean energy for Louisville Metro Government’s operations, the Louisville project team intends to approach the goal of community-wide clean energy through an equity lens. By designing programs that are accessible to and directly benefit low-income and historically disadvantaged residents, the team seeks to alleviate higher energy burdens and improve residents’ health and wellbeing.

MINGO & LOGAN COUNTIES, WEST VIRGINIA

Cambellsville University Lycan Geological logo

The economic downturn of the coal industry in West Virginia has devastated the regional economy and tax base. Mingo and Logan Counties are in southwestern West Virginia and are on the Allegheny Plateau, an area known for its bituminous coal, natural gas, and other commodities. The community team seeks to identify rare earth elements and their concentrations in southern West Virginia to revitalize the economies in the central Appalachian Basin and train professionals to engage in the recovery of rare earth minerals.

MINNEAPOLIS, MINNEAPOLIS

A photo of people standing on a roof next to a solar array in Minneapolis, MN

In Minneapolis, Minnesota two designated “Green Zones” and adjacent neighborhoods that are low-income, racially diverse and over-burdened by environmental impacts represent areas of cumulative environmental, social, political and economic vulnerabilities. The team is accelerating three project outcomes for these neighborhoods: 1) resiliency hubs with rooftop solar, battery storage and microgrid controls that are the basis for the Resilient Minneapolis Project and offer outlines for a city-wide resilience strategy;  2) A network of community solar gardens benefitting primarily low-income households, with a plan for long-term neighborhood ownership of the solar assets; and 3) the creation of clean energy employment opportunities job training programs at the area’s Regional Apprenticeship Training Center.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

a photo of downtown New Orleans, LA at night

New Orleans. Louisiana is a historically fossil-energy-dependent community. This dependence has contributed to a legacy of environmental degradation and economic under-development, which manifest as high rates of household energy burden, high exposure to environmental toxicity and risk of natural hazards including tropical cyclones and extreme temperatures leading to power grid failures and severe impacts to the community. The team will develop a coordinated strategy for energy infrastructure improvements to increase grid resilience and reduce the costs and impacts of power outages for the most energy burdened and vulnerable neighborhoods and populations. The strategy will approach grid modernization as an opportunity to address challenges related to energy affordability and reliability at the same time as creating economic opportunities for our community. One important aspect of this effort is the focus on ways to include small business owners—especially business owners of color in historically minority communities—in the energy grid resilience strategy. This assistance will build on recent planning and ongoing work in the areas of disaster preparedness, microgrids and renewable energy, energy efficiency, climate change mitigation, and workforce development to develop a citywide roadmap for coordinated action.

PEMBROKE TOWNSHIP AND HOPKINS PARK VILLAGE, ILLINOIS

A photo of a farmer in a field in Pembroke Township and Hopkins Park Village, IL

The Pembroke-Hopkins Park (PHP), Illinois community is approximately 70 miles south of Chicago. PHP is home to the Potawatomi Nation and the state’s last historic Black farming community. The community grapples with legacies of racism, redlining, institutional and environmental injustices including five Superfund/Brownfield sites and a recently approved natural gas pipeline. PHP’s insufficient energy grid, broadband and infrastructure, impede prospective businesses from establishing in the community. The Community Development Corporation of Pembroke-Hopkins Park will build on the community’s current Sustainability Plan to develop new economic opportunities for a clean energy future.

PITTSBURGH (HILL DISTRICT), PENNSYLVANIA

a photo of community members from the Pittsburgh’s Greater Hill District, PA.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania’s Greater Hill District is a historic black neighborhood known for its contributions to music, literature, and arts that shaped American culture. It is a dense urban area built on abandoned coal mines creating unique environmental constraints for long-term development and neighborhood stabilization. The team will develop an equitable, community-serving energy strategy that focuses on residential energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy generation, adding to an ongoing Greater Hill District Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan Update that is currently working with community members and technical advisors to create a community vision and 10-year implementation plan pertaining to Community, Development, Mobility, and Infrastructure. Technical assistance address residents’ energy burden issues, spur localized wealth generation, and provide necessary funding streams for increased neighborhood investment. 

QUESTA, NEW MEXICO

a photo of downtown Questa, NM

Questa, New Mexico is a majority-minority community in northern Taos County with a neighboring a superfund site, the former Questa Mine. The Village of Questa seeks to identify clean, low carbon electricity and renewable energy sources—specifically making green hydrogen from a PV array using an electrolyzer—that can provide significant local economic, environmental, reliability, and other benefits to the community. Community priorities will inform the effort including on details such as project size and technologies, investment strategies, and community roles in ownership or operation of the technologies.

RICHMOND, CALIFORNIA

An aerial shot of a neighborhood in the community of Richmond, CA

The City of Richmond, California is a Charter City located in Contra Costa County—part of the San Francisco Bay Area—with a population of 110,567 residents. Richmond is one of the region’s most diverse communities: 42.5% of residents identify as Hispanic or Latino, 20.2% identify as Black or African American alone, 17.8% identify as White alone (not Hispanic of Latino), and 15.4% identify as Asian alone (15.4%). The City has shown leadership in addressing equity and sustainability by adopting a Health in All Policies (HiAP) Ordinance and Strategy and Climate Action Plan (CAP). The Richmond CAP, through a Health Equity lens, provides a framework of policies and programs to achieve the City’s health and environmental goals by operationalizing the community driven vision laid out in the Richmond General Plan 2030. 

Due to its proximity to heavy industrial areas and oil refineries, the Richmond community has experienced a high pollution burden, high rates of asthma, and high rates of cardiovascular disease in residents. In 2021, Richmond banned gas hookups from new developments to eliminate dangerous sources of emissions and indoor air pollutants. For its existing buildings, Richmond is pursuing an equitable electrification strategy that includes a clean energy transition plan and extensive community engagement. 

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

a aerial shot of downtown San Jose, CA

San José is known as the Capitol of Silicon Valley. While there is extreme wealth in the area, there are also many who are struggling. In the predominately Latina/o/x and Asian/Pacific Islander communities in East San José and downtown San José, racial disparities and social inequities compound other problems like air pollution, traffic, housing burden, poverty, and linguistic isolation. The team will leverage the City’s building electrification planning to-date and prepare its community to take advantage of potential funding by developing a community-informed action plan to support all-electric retrofits in East San José and south of downtown and bring more underrepresented communities into the electrification workforce. These strategies will reduce residents’ energy burden while meeting the community’s building electrification goals, ensuring have access to incentives and resources and the ability to participate in the new electrification economy. 

SEATTLE (BEACON HILL), WASHINGTON

A photo of the community of Seattle (Beacon Hill), WA

In Southeast Seattle, Washington, Beacon Hill sits directly under Sea-Tac airport’s flight paths and suffers from indoor and outdoor air and noise pollution and high rates of housing displacement. Building on previous experience developing the Beacon Hill EJ Community Action Plan, which supports 70% people of color and 44% immigrants and refugees addressing the negative environmental, health and climate impacts of air and noise pollution, the team will focus on energy-related building improvements not only to reduce energy burden but also to increase building energy control, provide new local workforce opportunities and improve heating and cooling efficiency, indoor comfort and climate resilience. Many homes in the Beacon Hill community rely on oil to heat their homes, which adversely impacts health and exacerbates fossil fuel related pollution in the community. Combustion of natural gas in space heating, water heating and cooking has also been shown to increase asthma rates and exacerbate respiratory illnesses. Electrification of these appliances can improve indoor air-quality, improve safety, and support healthier outcomes. The Beacon Hill team seeks technical assistance to plan for a conversion of all homes from oil by 2030, to increase the equitable adoption of electric heat pumps and electric appliances such as stoves and heat pump water heaters, and to increase enrolment in weatherization services through increased outreach to the 61% of households that speak a language other than English at home.

Stockton, California

photos of the community of Stockton, California

The Stockton metropolitan region in California’s Northern Central Valley has a historical economic dependence on sectors that rely heavily on the fossil fuel industry. South Stockton neighborhoods, in particular, have endured historic disinvestment and now face some of the most severe rates (91-99 percentiles) for pollution overall in California, per the state’s CalEnviroScreen tool. An adjacent biomass cogeneration plant at the Port of Stockton, diesel trucking, and multiple freeways are among the highest polluting sources. The multi-stakeholder team, comprising Edge Collaborative, Little Manila Rising, the Housing Authority of San Joaquin and The Climate Center, seeks to advance planning and projects that address historic energy and pollution burdens and will drive a clean, reliable, equitable, and safe electricity system that works for the community. Stockton’s priority areas for technical assistance include determination of feasibility for local clean energy projects, a community roadmap that prioritizes and provides guidelines for local clean energy projects that align with current planning documents such as Stockton’s Sustainable Neighborhood Plan, and community input and research on carbon capture and storage projects currently being contemplated by industry groups and local private landowners.