SunShot Prize: Solar in Your Community Challenge

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The SunShot Prize: Solar in Your Community Challenge is a $5 million prize competition that aims to expand solar electricity access to all Americans, especially underserved segments such as low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local, and tribal governments, and nonprofit organizations. In order to make solar more accessible and inclusive for every American, the challenge works to spur the development of new and innovative financial and business models that serve non-rooftop solar users such as community solar.

Offering $5 million in cash prizes and technical assistance over 18 months, the challenge supports teams across the country to develop projects and programs that expand solar access to underserved groups, while proving that these business models can be widely replicated and adopted by similar groups. In addition to teams, the challenge supports technical assistance providers (consultants and coaches) that assist teams by providing resources to develop their business models.

The Solar in Your Community Challenge is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative and administered by The State University of New York (SUNY) Polytechnic Institute.

Teams

Teams are located all across the country. Click here to view an interactive map of all participating teams.

Structure and Prizes

Teams participating in the challenge may receive three distinct types of awards: seed awards, technical assistance vouchers, and final prizes.

Teams compete to win $1 million in final prizes, including a $500,000 Grand Prize for successfully demonstrating a reproducible and scalable model for low income solar. In addition, selected teams will receive approximately 50 cash seed awards totaling $2 million, and benefit from technical assistance resources and mentoring worth an additional $2 million. Seed awards of up to $60,000 per team will be disbursed in increments based on completed milestones over the 18-month challenge.

Consultants and coaches will be compensated depending on the extent to which challenge teams choose to use their services throughout the 18-month performance period.

Learn more about the prizes on the challenge’s website.

Rules

The projects and programs under development by competing teams must directly benefit:

  • LMI households, with at least 20% of the energy and benefits assigned to LMI households; or
  • Nonprofit organizations; state, local, or tribal governments; or community service organizations, with at least 60% of the energy and benefits assigned to one of these types of entities.

Photovoltaic (PV) systems must be completed during the 18-month performance period and should aggregate between 25 and 5,000 kilowatts (peak DC capacity). A single entity cannot not be assigned more than 1,000 kilowatts from a single solar energy system.

While 20% LMI customers is the minimum, teams with over 50% LMI customers are eligible to receive a bonus cash prize. DOE will also show preference for teams that aim to reach 100% LMI households or have 100% of the energy benefit nonprofit/governmental organizations as outlined in the evaluation criteria for winning prizes.

Read the official rules and learn more on the challenge’s website.

Timeline

Release of Official Rules: November 18, 2016
Informational Webinar: November 29, 2016, 2:00pm ET
Early Application Deadline: January 6, 2017
Application Deadline: March 17, 2017
Technical Assistance Marketplace Opens: May 2017
Late-Start Application Deadline: August 1, 2017
18-month Performance Period Begins: May 1, 2017
18-month Performance Period Ends: October 31, 2018
Announcements of Final Prizes Winners (Expected): January 2019

 

Additional Information