The American-Made Community Power Accelerator Prize: Accessing Capital to Deploy Equitable Community Solar, launched on January 19, 2023, 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 expand a robust ecosystem of community solar project developers that incorporate meaningful benefits into projects across the United States.
Community solar is a form of solar energy generation that allows all community members to access the meaningful benefits of renewable energy, particularly those with low-to-moderate incomes, renters, and those for whom traditional rooftop solar is unavailable.
The prize is part of the Community Power AcceleratorTM, an initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) that connects developers, investors, philanthropists, and community-based organizations to get more equitable community solar projects financed and deployed. The accelerator provides training, technical assistance, and an online platform to support the critical connections necessary to finance and expand access to affordable community solar.
The Community Power Accelerator Prize will help achieve NCSP’s goal to enable enough community solar to power the equivalent of 5 million households and create $1 billion in household savings by 2025, by addressing the lack of expertise, capacity, and pre-development funds for community solar developers, and accelerating a pipeline of projects with meaningful benefits.
The prize consists of three phases—Ready!, Set!, and Grow!—with up to 25 winners selected in each round. On April 20, 2023, 25 competitors were selected to win $50,000 and advance to the next phase of the competition. In phase 2, competitors can each win up to $200,000. In phase 3, competitors can each win up to $150,000.
The Community Power Accelerator Prize will award up to $10 million in cash prizes to competitors over three rounds. These cash prizes will enable mission-aligned developers to expand their staff and operations to design and deploy multiple community solar projects that use replicable business models and prioritize equitable access. These projects and models will expand community solar across the country and drive new capital sources to community solar.
To be recognized by the Community Power Accelerator Prize, competitors must show notable progress in project pre-development activities. These include designing, financing, incorporating equity, and enabling access to at least two of “The Five Meaningful Benefits of Community Solar” identified by NCSP: low- to moderate-income household access, greater household savings, resilience and grid benefits, community ownership, and equitable workforce development.
Over the course of the prize, competitors will 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.
Phase 1 Winners
Accelerating Community-Owned Community Power!
Groundswell Inc., Washington, D.C.
Affordable Power for Chicago
548 Energy Solutions, Chicago, IL
Boston SHINE: Solar and Workforce Development
Rare Inc., West Newton, MA
Community Power Buffalo
People United for Sustainable Housing, Buffalo, NY
Community Solar, Solar Jobs, Equity and Resilience
Son Solar Inc., Mendenhall, MS
Community Solar for Native American Reservations
Sovereign Resiliency Partners LLC, Masphee, MA
Condo to the Farm
ADL Solutions LLC, Chicago, IL
Create a Path for Rural Missouri Towns to Go Solar
AV3 Energy, Lecoma, MO
Energy Allies Community Led Community Owned Solar
Energy Allies, Boston, MA
Hawaii's First 100% Community-Owned Solar Projects
Mana Pacific Inc, Kihei, HI
Legacy Solar Co-op
Legacy Solar Wisconsin Cooperative, Madison, WI
Mastering Microgrids in the Mountain
Cooperativa Hidroeléctrica de la Montaña, Utuado, PR
New Mexico Expansion
SunShare LLC, Denver, CO
Oregon Clean Power Cooperative
Oregon Clean Power Cooperative, Corvallis, OR
Ready! Green Energy Justice Cooperative
Green Energy Justice Cooperative, Chicago, IL
RETI Center Local Power NYC
The Resilience Education Training and Innovation Center Limited, Brooklyn, NY
Solar Investment for a Sustainable School District
Orleans Parish School Board, New Orleans, LA
Solar Neighbors – Making the Motor City a Solar City
North End Woodward Community Coalition, Detroit, MI
Solar United National Empowers Communities
Solar United National LLC, Mount Pleasant, SC
Standing Rock Community Solar Project
SAGE Development Authority/ Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Renewable Energy Power Authority, Fort Yates, ND
Sunward: Building Community Energy Together
Bonneville Environmental Foundation, Portland, OR
Team Impact: Project Renew
Climate Impact Capital Energy Holdings LLC, Austin, TX
Thistle Whistle Farm + Community Agrivoltaics
Colorado Farm and Food Alliance, Paonia, CO
UPROSE x Working Power Community Owned Solar
UPROSE, Brooklyn, NY
Community Through Colors, Vieques, PR
- Phase 1 opened on January 19, 2023, and winners were announced on April 20, 2023.
- Phase 2 opened on April 20, 2023.
- Phase 2 winners are expected to be announced in late 2023.
- Register to compete in the Community Power Accelerator Prize.
- Download the rules for the competition.
- Watch recordings of the informational webinars and view the accompanying slides for more information:
- February 1: Recording & Slides [PDF]
- March 3: Recording & Slides [PDF]
- Learn more about the Community Power Accelerator.
- Join the National Community Solar Partnership.
- Explore the DOE solar office’s research on equitable access to solar energy.
- Read the summary of the DOE Equitable Access to Community Solar Request for Information to learn more about the barriers to community solar access.
- Understand the basics of community solar.