American Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar graphic

The American-Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar (The Sunny Awards) is a prize competition that recognizes community solar projects and programs that employ or develop best practices to increase equitable access to the meaningful benefits of community solar for subscribers and their communities.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the 2023 Sunny Awards on April 20, 2023. Five $10,000 Sunny Awards Grand Prize winners and one $5,000 Meaningful Benefits Award winner were announced on November 15, 2023, representing competitors who demonstrated effective ways to equitably deliver the specific, meaningful benefits of community solar identified by the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP).

About the Prize

Community solar project portfolios (including 1 to 5 individual community solar installations) or programs (state-, municipal-, territory-, tribal- or utility-run initiatives that enable, incentivize, or otherwise support the development of multiple community solar projects within a specific jurisdiction) that serve at least 50% residential customers and were energized on or after January 1, 2020, were eligible to apply for the 2023 Sunny Awards.

Applicants were required to provide a narrative and supporting evidence verifying that the project or program provides meaningful benefits in at least two of the following meaningful benefits:

  • Low- to moderate-income (LMI) Household Access
  • Greater Households Savings
  • Resilience and Grid Benefits
  • Community Ownership
  • Equitable Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship

Project portfolios and programs could also receive recognition through the following Engagement Awards:

  • Community Participation
  • Inclusive Outreach

Projects or programs that successfully demonstrated that they deliver at least two meaningful benefits to subscribers and their communities were eligible to be recognized as Sunny Award Finalists and receive a cash prize of $2,500.

A panel of external reviewers judged finalist project portfolios and state or utility programs using a pre-determined and publicly available set of scoring guidance. Up to five project portfolios or state or utility programs that demonstrated significant achievement in delivering meaningful benefits across two or more categories were eligible to be named as Grand Prize Winners and each receive a $10,000 cash prize.

Additionally, up to 15 project portfolios or state or utility programs were eligible to receive a Meaningful Benefits Award or Engagement Award and a $5,000 cash prize. This recognition highlighted the attributes and best practices that set each winning project portfolio, or state, or utility program apart.

Finalists could win either a Meaningful Benefits/Engagement Award or Grand Prize Award, but not both.

Questions about the 2023 Sunny Awards can be emailed to sunnyawards@nrel.gov.

Timeline

  • SETO announced the 2023 Sunny Awards on April 20, 2023.
  • An informational webinar was held on May 9, 2023.
  • Submissions were due July 14, 2023.
  • Finalist Awards were announced September 11, 2023.
  • Grand Prize, Meaningful Benefits, and Engagement Awards were announced on November 15, 2023.

Grand Prize Winners

Illinois Solar For All
Illinois Power Agency | IL
Illinois Solar For All is a state-led program that currently supports 27 megawatts (MW) of community solar capacity that serves at least 50% low- to moderate-income households and provides bill savings of 50% of the value produced by each subscriber’s share of the project.  

Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing
Olympia Community Solar | Olympia, WA
Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing is a nonprofit-owned community solar project in Olympia, WA that provides more than 30% bill savings to a community of 100% low- to moderate-income residents.

Prologis Community Solar 
Solar Landscape LLC | Perth Amboy, NJ
Prologis Community Solar is a 2.67 MW community solar project on top of a warehouse in Perth Amboy, NJ that provides energy bill savings to over 400 nearby low- to moderate-income households and workforce development opportunities for the community.  

Solar at Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE)
Sunwealth Power Inc. | Acton, MA
Solar at CBE is a portfolio of three solar canopies built on a synagogue in Acton, MA that supports both the synagogue’s building and low- to moderate-income households in the community.  

Staying Sunny in Colorado
Xcel Energy Colorado | CO
Staying Sunny in Colorado is an investor-owned utility-led program that currently supports 6 MW of community solar projects dedicated to 100% low- to moderate-income households in Xcel utility territory in Colorado, providing over 30% bill savings on average to subscribers.

Meaningful Benefit Category Special Recognition Winner

Co-op Solar: Owned by the People
Oregon Clean Power Cooperative | Garibaldi, Nehalem, Phoenix, OR
Co-op Solar is a cooperatively owned portfolio of two community solar projects that prioritize community resilience and collective ownership in Garibaldi, Nehalem, and Phoenix, Oregon.

Finalists

Brownfield to Brightfield 
City of Urbana | Urbana, IL 
Brownfield to Brightfield is a 5.3 megawatt (MW) community solar project developed in partnership with the City of Urbana sited on a brownfield in Urbana, Illinois. 

Co-op Solar: Owned by the People 
Oregon Clean Power Cooperative | Garibaldi, Nehalem, Phoenix, OR 
Co-op Solar is a cooperatively-owned portfolio of two community solar projects that prioritize community resilience and collective ownership in Garibaldi, Nehalem, and Phoenix Oregon. 

Illinois Solar For All 
Illinois Power Agency | IL 
Illinois Solar For All is a state-led program that supports 27 MW of community solar projects that serve at least 50% low- to moderate-income households and provide bill savings of 50% of the value produced by each subscriber’s share of the project.

Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing
Olympia Community Solar | Olympia, WA 
Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing is a non-profit owned community solar project in Olympia, Washington that provides over 30% bill savings to a community of 100% low- to moderate-income residents.

Prologis Community Solar Transforms Brownfield
Solar Landscape LLC | Perth Amboy, NJ 
Prologis Community Solar Transforms Brownfield is a 2.67 MW community solar project on top of a warehouse in Perth Amboy, New Jersey that provides energy bill savings to more than 400 nearby low- to moderate-income households and workforce development opportunities for the community.

Solar at Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE)
Sunwealth Power Inc. | Acton, MA 
Solar at CBE is a portfolio of three solar canopies built on a synagogue in Acton, Massachusetts that supports both the synagogue’s building and low- to moderate-income households in the local community.

Staying Sunny in Colorado
Xcel Energy Colorado | CO 
Staying Sunny in Colorado is an investor-owned, utility-led program that supports 6 MW of community solar projects dedicated to 100% low- to moderate-income households in Xcel utility territory in Colorado.