The Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship program funds recent graduates and energy professionals to work with critical energy organizations to advance clean energy solutions. The program recruits talent from diverse backgrounds to spend up to two years supporting the work of eligible host organizations, which include electric public utility commissions, municipal and cooperative utilities, and grid operators, such as regional transmission organizations or independent system operators.

Submit questions to ceif@ee.doe.gov; answers will be posted to our frequently asked questions.

Innovator Fellows receive a stipend and an educational allowance to support host institution projects that will help decarbonize the power system, electrify transportation and industry, and make the U.S. power system more equitable and inclusive. 

The goal of the program is to increase access to clean energy career opportunities across the country and accelerate the national transition to resilient and affordable clean energy. 

Announcing the 2022 Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship Cohort 

On September 29, 2022 DOE announced the 19 critical energy institutions that will host a fellow for the next year, renewable for a second year.

Host Institution Category State Project Focus
Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation Cooperative utility North Carolina Electrification of transportation in rural southeastern North Carolina
Chattanooga EPB Municipal utility Tennessee Decarbonizing Chattanooga
Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority Regulatory commission Connecticut Connecticut's Equitable Modern Grid (EMG) initiative
Connexus Energy Cooperative utility Minnesota Accelerated electric vehicle deployment
Farmers Electric Cooperative  Cooperative utility Texas Rate structures and program design for Distributed Energy Resources
Hawaii Public Utilities Commission Regulatory commission Hawaii The path to 100% renewable energy in Hawaii
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Regulatory commission Indiana State engagement in MISO long-term transmission planning
Maryland Public Service Commission Regulatory commission Maryland Clean energy and climate change strategy and transmission planning
Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) Grid operator Indiana office, service territory covers multiple states Software process automation for reliable, optimal grid operators
New York State Dept. of Public Service Regulatory commission New York  Equitable, affordable access to clean energy and efficiency for disadvantaged communities
North Carolina Utilities Commission Regulatory commission North Carolina Development of North Carolina Clean Energy Transition Plan
Rappahannock Electric Cooperative  Cooperative utility Virginia Development and implementation of an Electric Vehicle expansion program
Seattle City Light Municipal utility Washington Vehicle Electrification Infrastructure
Stowe Town Electric Department Municipal utility Vermont Community solar program development
Tennessee Valley Authority Grid operator Tennessee office, service territory covers multiple states Transformative innovations for the electric grid in the Tennessee Valley
Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association  Cooperative utility Colorado Addressing energy inequities in rural areas of the Rocky Mountain West
Vermont Electric Cooperative Cooperative utility Vermont Pilot program development for resilience, energy transformation and load management
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission Regulatory commission Washington  Equity in regulation and decision-making in Washington State
Western Area Power Administration Grid operator Colorado office, service territory covers multiple states Power marketing & energy services technology support for Colorado River Storage Project

How Does the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship Work? 

Host institutions and fellowship candidates must each apply separately to participate in the program. DOE will facilitate the process of matching host institutions and fellows.

The application, selection, and matching process is as follows: 

The application, selection, and matching process for the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship. First hosts and candidates apply separately, then both go through merit review, followed by interviews and then final matching.

1. Applications

  • Prospective host institutions apply to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with a specific project scope. The staff member of an eligible institution who will mentor the Fellow and supervise their work on the project should submit the application and participate in the matching process. Only one application may be submitted per host institution.
  • Fellowship candidates apply to DOE describing their interest in the opportunity and their relevant skills and experience.

2. Merit Review

  • DOE selects host institutions and projects that fit the program criteria and budget.
  • DOE selects finalist candidates according to program criteria and the number of selected hosts. Candidates may be invited to an interview with DOE.

3. Interviews

  • Hosts and finalist candidates conduct interviews. DOE will assign an initial set of interviews based on information submitted in the applications. Finalists and hosts may arrange additional interviews during this time.

4. Matches

  • Hosts and finalist candidates submit their pairing preferences to DOE.
  • DOE makes final matching decisions. Hosts and finalist candidates are not guaranteed a match until offers are made and agreed to by both the host and the finalist candidate.

Types of Projects

Projects may address a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, grid modernization, equitable and affordable access to clean energy and energy efficiency, integration of electric vehicles and building electrification, resilience planning, interconnection, and rate design.

Projects are defined up front, but they have the flexibility to evolve over the fellowship period.

Who Should Apply?

For Host Institutions

Eligible hosts include electric public utility commissions, municipal utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and grid operators, such as independent system operators or regional transmission organizations. Potential fellow supervisors from host institution must show an interested in mentoring.

For Fellows

The fellowship is open to recent bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral graduates or mid-career professionals in fields relevant to electricity generation, transmission, or distribution. Fellowship candidates must demonstrate an interest in the application of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable transportation technologies and policies. Fellows serve one-year terms and have the option to renew for a second year. Fellows receive a competitive stipend with health benefits and an education allowance to support their professional development.

Selection Criteria

In addition to the merit criteria, the Selection Official may consider program policy factors in determining which applications to select.

For Host Institutions

For hosts/projects, program criteria include alignment with the mission and priorities of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), potential for impact, a needs assessment, and the commitment to mentorship.

Merit Review Criteria

  • Degree to which the proposed project is in line with EERE’s mission and priorities, as laid out in the Multi-Year Program Plan.
  • Degree to which there is strong potential for impact from a completed project.
  • Degree to which the host demonstrates willingness to make the time commitment to be a good mentor.

Program Policy Factors

  1. Applications may be selected for variety across EERE programmatic arenas (energy efficiency, renewable power, and sustainable transportation).
  2. Applications may be selected to ensure diversity of host institutions
    (range of types, geography and resource needs).
  3. Applications may be selected for optimal distribution of appointments within and across varying types of host institutions (e.g., PUCs, utilities, grid operators).
  4. Applications may be selected that expand DOE’s funding and support to new competitors and recipients that have not been supported by in the past.

For Fellows

For candidates, program criteria include motivation and their academic or professional qualifications.

Merit Review Criteria

  • Degree to which the candidate has the training and qualifications required to undertake the type of project in which they’ve indicated interest.
  • Degree to which the candidate’s application is clearly articulated, with appropriate levels of technical sophistication.
  • Degree to which the candidate is highly-motivated, takes initiative, and can work independently.

Program Policy Factors

  1. Applications may be selected to ensure diversity of the overall Innovator Fellows cohort (geographic diversity, demographic diversity, and a diversity of colleges and universities).
  2. Applications may be selected that best reflect & support local communities in their host institution’s jurisdiction or service territory.

How to Apply

The Clean Energy Innovators Fellowship is administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

The Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship is an expansion of the Solar Energy Innovators Program. Learn about past innovators

Learn about other fellowship opportunities in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Please submit any questions to ceif@ee.doe.gov; answers will be posted below.

For Host Institutions

What is a Host Institution? What is a Host Institution Mentor?

  • Eligible host organizations for this cohort include electric public utility commissions, municipal and cooperative utilities, and grid operators, such as regional transmission organizations or independent system operators.
  • This fellowship program is seeking Host Institutions with projects that require innovative approaches to advance the clean energy transition, to host participants in the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship program, on-site, for up to two years.
  • The staff member of the Host Institution that would guide the Innovator Fellow’s work on the proposed project is considered the Mentor and is expected to play a mentoring role. The Mentor is also the point of contact for the Host Institution through the selection process, including interviews.

Will I have any say in what fellow is placed with me?

  • Yes. The matching process is based on mutual agreement. At the conclusion of candidate–host interviews, all parties will be asked to list acceptable matches, from which final pairings will be made. If a candidate would not be a good fit, then the host would not put them on their list.

Are non-profits, universities, private associations, or privately-owned businesses eligible to apply as Host Institutions of the Spring 2022 cohort?

  • Non-profits, universities, or privately owned businesses are ineligible to apply as Host Institutions of this cohort. Eligible host organizations for this cohort include electric public utility commissions, municipal and cooperative utilities, and grid operators, such as regional transmission organizations or independent system operators. 
  • Future cohorts may be open to other selections of Host Institutions.

Are investor-owned utilities (IOUs) eligible to apply as Host Institutions of the Spring 2022 cohort?

  • Investor-owned utilities are ineligible to apply as Host Institutions of this cohort. Eligible host organizations for this cohort include electric public utility commissions, municipal and cooperative utilities, and grid operators, such as regional transmission organizations or independent system operators.
  • Future cohorts may be open to other selections of Host Institutions.

What if we are an eligible Host Institution that has independently identified a strong fellow candidate?

  • You may apply to the program with a mutually agreed host-fellow pair already arranged. Both the host and candidate would need to apply separately and indicate the mutual agreement on your respective applications.

What if we have hosted an Innovator previously, under the predecessor program, would we be eligible for support?

  • Host Institutions that have not received support under this program or its predecessor program would receive preferential consideration, ahead of repeat hosts.
  • One program policy factor states: “Applications may be selected that expand DOE’s funding and support to new competitors and recipients that have not been supported in the past.”

For Fellows

What is a cohort? What do you mean by Spring 2022 cohort?

  • A cohort is the group of all fellows selected under one application window.
  • In this case, the Spring 2022 cohort of Innovator Fellows will be comprised of those successfully receiving placements following their applications to the program solicitation that closes May 6, 2022.
  • It is anticipated that DOE will release one or more solicitations a year, so multiple cohorts are envisioned. 

If I secure a fellowship through this program, can I work remotely for my Host Institution?

  • An appointment in principle involves a full-time commitment to on-site participation at the host institution throughout the appointment period. Prior experience has clearly shown that in-person collaboration makes for a higher quality fellowship experience for both parties.
  • Given that many Host Institutions have moved to hybrid work arrangements in the wake of the COVID pandemic, the expectation is that a fellow would follow their Host Institution’s policies for days in the office vs. working from home.
  • Full-time remote participation in the fellowship will be considered on a case-by-case basis only, upon request from the Host Institution where the Innovator Fellow was matched.

How are Innovator Fellow stipends determined?

  • Stipends are determined by highest degree level received and years of relevant professional experience, beginning at $40k for a Bachelor’s degree, at $55k for a Master’s degree, and at $70k for a Doctoral degree. We calculate an ‘adder’ to the baseline for your degree based on the number of months of relevant work experience you have. 

Will I have any say in where I’m appointed to?

  • Yes. The matching process is based on mutual agreement. At the conclusion of candidate–host interviews, all parties will be asked to list acceptable matches, from which final pairings will be made. If a project or geography is not a fit for a given candidate, then the candidate would not put it on their list.

Can I apply as a candidate even though I haven’t finished my relevant degree?

  • Any degrees in progress must be completed prior to the start of the fellowship. For this cohort, degrees would need to be completed no later than September 1st.

The application requires a reference. Who should the reference come from?

  • The person providing your reference should be in a position to speak to your ability to contribute to the program. This may be a professional reference or an academic reference, as you choose.
  • Note that candidates are asked to provide the name and contact information for their reference person in their application; candidates may submit their application independently of the reference being complete.

What is the time commitment once appointed as a Fellow?

  • An appointment involves a full-time commitment during the host institution’s business hours, and throughout the appointment period. 

Does this fellowship program accept applications from non-U.S. citizens?

  • The candidate must be a U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident (LPR) at the time of application. Evidence of this status must be submitted to ORISE at the time an appointment offer is accepted.

Is there an opportunity to extend the fellowship for a second year?

  • Yes. The fellowship appointment is for one year, renewable for a second if all parties agree to continue.