Five Projects Each Receive $10,000 to Advance Equitable Community Solar in Their Communities 

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Community Solar Partnership today announced the winners of the 2023 American-Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar. DOE selected five teams to receive a $10,000 Grand Prize for their community solar projects or programs, which provide meaningful benefits to their subscribers and communities and serve as a replicable model. These winners’ projects will provide clean energy access for over 2,400 low- to moderate-income households.  

The Sunny Award winners’ projects and programs provide real world examples of how clean energy can bring benefits to households across the United States. Through initiatives like the Sunny Awards, DOE is able to reduce energy costs for low- to moderate-income households and make clean solar energy accessible to all Americans. 

Jeff Marootian, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
American Made Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar graphic

The winners represent competitors who demonstrated effective ways to equitably deliver the specific, meaningful benefits of community solar identified by the NCSP.

The Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar recognize community solar projects, and state, municipal, Tribal, and utility-led community solar programs that employ best practices in delivering meaningful benefits to their subscribers and communities. These meaningful benefits include low- to moderate-income household access, greater household savings, resilience and grid benefits, community ownership, and equitable workforce development and entrepreneurship. The 2023 Sunny Awards, which launched in April 2023, also recognized projects and programs for their use of best practices for community participation in project or program design, and inclusive outreach to engage participants.  

The Grand Prize Award winners are:   

  • Illinois Power Agency - Illinois Solar for All (Chicago, IL): a state-led program that currently supports 27 megawatts (MW) of community solar capacity that serves at least 50% low- to moderate-income households. The program provides bill savings of 50% of the value produced by each subscriber’s share of the project. The Illinois Solar for All program was recognized for its success in delivering access to solar energy to over 1,200 low- to moderate-income households, meaningful household savings, opportunities for community ownership, equitable workforce development, as well as its use of community participation in program design and inclusive outreach best practices.     
     
  • Olympia Community Solar - Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing (Olympia, WA): a non-profit owned community solar project in Olympia, WA that provides more than 30% bill savings to a community of 100% low- to moderate-income residents. The Overcoming Solar Barriers for Multifamily Housing project was recognized for its success in delivering access to solar energy to 82 low- to moderate-income households, providing meaningful household savings, and for its use of community participation in project design.  
     
  • Solar Landscape LLC - Prologis Community Solar (Perth Amboy, NJ): 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. The Prologis Community Solar project was recognized for its success in delivering access to solar energy to over 200 low- to moderate-income households and its equitable workforce development practices, as well as its use of inclusive outreach best practices.  
     
  • Sunwealth Power Inc. - Solar at Congregation Beth Elohim (CBE) (Acton, MA): 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. The Solar at CBE project was recognized for its success in delivering access to solar energy to 16 low- to moderate-income households, for providing participants with an average electric bill savings of 22%, and for its use of inclusive outreach best practices.  
     
  • Xcel Energy Colorado - Staying Sunny in Colorado (Denver, CO): an investor-owned, utility-led program that currently supports six 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. The Staying Sunny in Colorado program was recognized for its success in providing access to solar energy to over 900 low- to moderate-income households, providing meaningful household savings, and for its use of inclusive outreach best practices.  

In addition to the Grand Prize Award winners, DOE also selected one Meaningful Benefit Award winner to receive $5,000 for their innovative approach to providing at least one of the meaningful benefits of community solar.  

The Meaningful Benefit Award winner is:

  • Oregon Clean Power Cooperative - Co-op Solar: Owned by the People (Garibaldi, Nehalem, and Phoenix, OR): a cooperatively owned portfolio of two community solar projects that prioritize community resilience and collective ownership in Garibaldi, Nehalem, and Phoenix, Oregon. The Co-op Solar: Owned by the People portfolio was awarded the Resilience and Grid Benefits Meaningful Benefit Award in recognition of its success in providing community solar with battery storage to power emergency operations at two schools and a fire station in the communities where the projects are located.

Community solar is a solar project or purchasing program within a geographic area that allows all community members to access the cost-saving and public health benefits of renewable energy. DOE initiatives like the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP), the Community Power Accelerator, and the Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar support the department’s efforts to ensure organizations and communities across the nation have access to funding and assistance necessary to develop community solar projects that promote long-lasting and meaningful benefits to the surrounding areas. 

About the National Community Solar Partnership 

NCSP is working to increase community solar capacity installed in the United States to 20 gigawatts, enough to power the equivalent of five million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings to consumers across America. NCSP has over 1,800 members who leverage peer networks and technical assistance resources to overcome barriers to expanding community solar access. 

NCSP is funded by DOE’s  Solar Energy Technologies Office.  

Learn more about the  National Community Solar Partnership

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