Innovator Fellow applications are now open and are due June 12 at 4pm ET.

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List of Host Institution projects

Lista de instituciones anfitrionas en Puerto Rico

Submit questions to; answers will be posted to our frequently asked questions below.

The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship program funds recent graduates and energy professionals to support critical energy organizations to advance clean energy solutions that will help decarbonize the power system, electrify transportation and industry, and make the U.S. power system more resilient, equitable and inclusive.

The program recruits candidates from diverse backgrounds to spend up to two years at eligible host institutions, which this year include:

  • Electric public utility commissions in the United States and U.S. territories
  • Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities
  • Puerto Rican essential energy organizations
  • Tribal utilities
  • Inter-Tribal councils and other Tribal organizations
  • Grid operators

Innovator Fellows receive a stipend to support their participation in the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship program and an allowance for education and professional development opportunities

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. 

On March 31, 2023 DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) announced that it is partnering with the DOE's Grid Deployment Office (GDO) to expand the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship program to include a focus on grid resilience and innovative grid services within states, territories, and Tribal institutions.  

How Does the Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship Work? 

1. Applications

  • Prospective Host Institutions apply to the program with a specific project scope. The staff member of an eligible host institution who will mentor the Fellow and oversee the project activities should submit the application and participate in the selection process. Host applications were due on April 27, 2023. 
  • Fellowship candidates apply to the program describing their interest in the opportunity and their relevant skills and experience. Candidates will indicate their top host projects of interest in their applications. Applications for Innovator Fellows are currently open and are due by June 12. Host Institution project descriptions can be viewed here to help Innovator Fellowship candidates select projects of interest. 

2. Merit Review

  • DOE selects Host Institutions and projects that fit the program criteria and budget.
  • DOE may conduct a 15-minute interview with a Host Institution for clarification purposes. 
  • DOE reviews Innovator Fellow applications according to program criteria and the number of selected host institution projectsFellowship candidates may be invited to a 15-minute interview with DOE.

3. Host Institution—Candidate Interviews

  • Hosts Institutions conduct candidate interviews. Host Institutions select candidates for interviews based on information submitted in the applications. 

4. Innovator Fellow Selection

  • Host Institutions notify DOE of selected fellowship candidate.
  • DOE confirms Host Institution—Innovator Fellow match. A Host Institution and candidate are not guaranteed a match until offers are made and agreed to by both the Host Institution and the candidate.

Who Should Apply?

For Host Institutions

  • Electric public utility commissions in the United States and U.S. territories 
  • Electric cooperatives and municipal utilities 
  • Puerto Rican essential energy organizations 
  • Tribal utilities 
  • Inter-tribal councils and other tribal organizations
  • Grid operators

For Fellows

The fellowship is open to recent bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral graduates and early career professionals. Fellowship candidates must demonstrate an interest in areas such as renewable energy, energy efficiency, and/or sustainable transportation technology and policy; electric grid resilience and modernization; Puerto Rico grid recovery and modernization; and Tribal energy resilience. 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 Host Institutions, program criteria include alignment with the mission and priorities of EERE and GDO, 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 and/or GDO’s mission and priorities.
  • 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) and GDO programmatic arenas (essential grid services, grid resilience formula grant implementation, grid resilience metric development, and tribe energy resilience planning practices).
  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 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 and takes initiative.

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 and support local communities in their host institution’s jurisdiction or service territory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Please submit any questions to; answers will be posted below.

For Host Institutions

What is a Host Institution? What is a Host Institution mentor?

  • Eligible Host Institutions for this cohort include electric public utility commissions in the United States and U.S. territories, electric cooperatives and municipal utilities, Puerto Rican essential energy organizations, grid operators, Tribal utilities, and Inter-Tribal councils and other Tribal organizations. 
  • 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, for up to two years.
  • The staff member of the host institution that would guide the Innovator Fellow’s progress 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.

What is a Puerto Rican essential energy organization?

  • Eligible organizations for Puerto Rico are the electric utility regulator, utility, grid operators, and electric cooperatives.

How many Innovator Fellows can be placed at my Host Institution? 

  • Eligible host institutions in the United States and U.S. territories (other than Puerto Rico) may host up to two Innovator Fellows so long as fellow project topics are not from the same group of topics (see Project Topics section below). For example, a host can have one fellow supporting a Group A topic and another fellow supporting a Group B topic, but not two fellows supporting a Group A topic and a different Group A topic. 
  • Eligible host institutions in Puerto Rico may host up to three Innovator Fellows. 
  • Host institutions interested in hosting more than one fellow must submit a separate application for each. Applications should identify a unique project and mentor for each fellow.  

What is Topic B for, and what type of projects qualify? 

  • Topic B is designed to provide fellowships at PUCs focused on accelerating opportunities for distributed energy resources (DERs) to participate in grid operations, enhance grid resilience, and improve the cost-effectiveness of DER support for grid functions. In this context DERs can include inverter-based resources, electric vehicles (EVs), demand response, energy storage, or other grid enhancing technologies. Some sample projects acceptable for Topic B proposals include, among others: 
    • Innovative proposals to support distribution grid operations; 
    • Advanced rate design for DERs, including EV charging; 
    • Performance based regulation to enable DERs; 
    • Enabling non-wires alternatives for services beyond peak-shaving; and 
    • Microgrid support for local distribution systems during normal operations. 

Will I have any say in what Innovator Fellow is placed at my Host Institution?

  • Yes. The matching process is based on mutual agreement. At the conclusion of Host Institution candidate interviews, the host will select the fellowship candidate. 

Are non-profits, universities, private associations, or privately-owned businesses eligible to apply as Host Institutions of the 2023 cohort?

  • Non-profits, universities, or privately owned businesses are ineligible to apply as Host Institutions of this cohort.

Are investor-owned utilities (IOUs) eligible to apply as Host Institutions of the 2023 cohort?

  • Investor-owned utilities are ineligible to apply as Host Institutions of this cohort.

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.

For Fellows

What is a cohort? 

  • A cohort is the group of all Innovator Fellows selected under one application window.
  • The 2023 cohort of Innovator Fellows will be comprised of those successfully receiving placements following their applications to the program solicitation that closes June 12, 2023.

If I secure a fellowship through this program, can I participate remotely from 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 in-office arrangements in the wake of the COVID pandemic, the expectation is that an Innovator Fellow would follow their Host Institution’s policies for days in the office versus remote participation 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.

How are Innovator Fellow stipends determined?

  • Stipends are determined by highest degree level received and years of relevant professional experience. 

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

  • Yes. The matching process is based on mutual agreement. If a project or geography is not a fit for a given candidate, then the candidate should not select it in their application.

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. 

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.

Is there a language requirement for Innovator Fellows at Puerto Rican Host Institutions? 

  • Spanish language proficiency is recommended, but not required, for Innovator Fellows seeking Puerto Rico placements. 

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.

Project topics  

To assist host institutions with their project summaries, DOE offers the following topics of interest for consideration.

Group A: Topics of interest for public utility commissions (PUCs), electric cooperatives & municipal utilities, & grid operators

  • Distributed energy resource adoption and integration
  • Electrification (e.g., buildings, vehicles and transportation, charging infrastructure)
  • Grid planning and modernization
  • Equity and energy justice
  • Regulation (e.g., rate design, interconnection)
  • Resilience

Group B: Topics of interest for PUCs that are interested in enabling essential grid services on the distribution system

  • Regulatory and economic structures that allow distributed technologies to provide essential grid services while ensuring asset owner/operators receive fair compensation for these services. 
    • Distributed energy technologies include but are not limited to inverter-based resources, microgrids, electric vehicle supply equipment, and distributed energy resources. 
    • Essential grid services include but are not limited to frequency regulation, voltage support, and operating reserves. 
  • In their project summary, host institutions should identify specific grid services or distribution-level operations for which economic or regulatory support is necessary.  
  • DOE’s Grid Deployment Office will support fellows and help facilitate the collaborative development of best practices.   

Group C: Topics of interest for Puerto Rican essential energy organizations

  • Grid resilience and energy planning

Group D: Topics of interest specific to grid resilience and/or tribal organizations

  • Grid resilience formula grant implementation (i.e., BIL Sec. 40101(d))
  • Grid resilience investment prioritization and valuation
  • Grid resilience metrics development
  • Community engagement and equity in the context of grid resilience planning
  • Development of tribal energy expertise and energy sector workforce
  • Tribe energy resilience planning practices and decision-making

2022 Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship Cohort

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

Host Institution Category State Project Focus
Arkansas Public Service Commission Regulatory commission Arkansas Updating state interconnection policy by expanding the scope of the existing policy beyond just net metering facilities and incorporating IEEE 1547-2018 standards
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 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

Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities

Regulatory commission Massachusetts Facilitating solar and energy storage interconnection in Massachusetts
Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) Grid operator Indiana office, service territory covers multiple states Software process automation for reliable, optimal grid operators

New Hampshire Electric Cooperative

Cooperative utility New Hampshire Rate design for transition to transactive energy
New York State Department 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 Utility 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

Vermont Public Utilities Commission

Regulatory commission Vermont Regulatory implementation of innovative programs across multiple sectors that advance Vermont’s energy goals
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 and energy services technology support for Colorado River Storage Project

The Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship is an expansion of the Solar Energy Innovator Program. Since 2017, EERE has placed fellows with 41 hosts across 29 states to help them implement clean energy solutions.

Map of all current and previous innovator hosts

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

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