Community

OCED’s mission is to deliver “clean energy demonstration projects at scale in partnership with the private sector to accelerate deployment, market adoption, and the equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system.” To achieve this mission, our projects will engage deeply with impacted communities; invest in quality jobs and workforce development; and advance equitable and just processes and outcomes. OCED recognizes the value of early, frequent, and meaningful two-way engagement to help guide our efforts to align with the needs and priorities of different communities hosting our projects.  

Community Benefits Plans 

By prioritizing tangible community benefits, OCED helps ensure the next chapter in America's energy story is marked by greater justice, equity, security, and resilience. As part of this priority, OCED requires all funding opportunity applicants to create and, if awarded funding, implement a Community Benefits Plan (CBP). CBPs are based on a set of four core interdependent policy priorities: engaging communities and labor; investing in America's workforce; advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and implementing the Justice40 Initiative

OCED_Community Benefits Plan

OCED is developing a highly structured and rigorous approach to our management and oversight of all aspects of a project – including community benefits – from project selection through construction and operation. The quality of CBPs will impact a project’s selection and ongoing evaluation throughout its lifecycle. CBPs typically account for 20 percent of an application’s score. OCED has supported project applicants during this initial application period by developing CBP guidance documents posted with our funding opportunities. For an example, see: Guidance for Creating a Community Benefits Plan for Regional Direct Air Capture Hubs.  

Project selection will only lead to award if projects successfully complete the negotiation process. During negotiation, OCED will work with selectees to strengthen CBPs and address weaknesses. Projects that receive an award will move to the planning phase, the first of OCED’s four project phases (planning, development, construction, and operation), and will begin implementing their CBPs. Between each phase is a go/no-go decision that considers how well a project is meeting its technical, financial, and community benefits commitments to determine whether an awardee can progress to the next phase and receive additional funding. 

CBP summaries will be made publicly available after OCED awards are made. 

OCED_CBP Phases

For more information on Community Benefits Plans, see: About Community Benefits Plans.

Community Engagement 

OCED is committed to meaningful two-way engagement with host communities and project performers throughout the demonstration project lifecycle. We will work to be as inclusive as possible of all stakeholders at the local community level, with particular regard for those most impacted by our projects. 

Labor Engagement, Quality Jobs, and Workforce Development 

OCED projects aim to provide safe, quality jobs to the surrounding community that have positive and equitable social and economic impacts.  Access to a skilled and capable workforce is a critical barrier to both implementation of OCED’s demonstration projects and scaled deployment beyond OCED funding. Employers will need to invest in equitable workforce development strategies to equip workers with the skills they will require to work safely and efficiently with cutting-edge technologies. Development and expansion of the workforce is a fundamental prerequisite to scaling demonstrated technologies and will be a critical enabler of a just transition to new clean energy solutions.  

  • For more information on energy jobs, please visit Energy Jobs | Department of Energy 
  • To identify census tracts where advanced energy projects may be eligible for the section of the 48C tax credit reserved for projects in Energy Communities, visit: Energy Communities 
  • The Good Jobs Initiative, led by the U.S. Department of Labor, provides critical information to workers, employers, and government as they work to improve job quality and create access to good jobs free from discrimination and harassment for all working people. To learn more, see: Good Jobs Initiative  
  • For more information on OCED’s Stakeholder Engagement Strategy, see: OCED Engagement Strategy Summary 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility 

Internally and through its funded projects, OCED is committed to increasing diverse representation, fostering a culture and environment of inclusion and belonging, and identifying and addressing barriers to ensuring fair access and opportunities. All OCED projects are expected to foster a welcoming and inclusive environment: advance equity; support people from groups underrepresented in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) and in energy jobs; and partner with underrepresented businesses, educational institutions, and training organizations that serve workers who face barriers to accessing quality jobs.  

Justice40 Initiative 

As part of OCED’s efforts on energy and environmental justice, the office is collaborating across DOE to support the Justice40 Initiative and its goal that 40 percent of overall benefits of certain federal investments—including those in climate change, clean energy, and workforce development and training—flow to disadvantaged communities. 

All OCED projects are covered under the Justice40 Initiative. As part of the CBP, each project will have requirements related to energy and environmental justice and the Justice40 Initiative.  

Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers 

OCED has partnered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to create the new Environmental Justice Thriving Communities Technical Assistance Centers (EJ TCTACs). Each EJ TCTAC is a “one-stop shop” for environmental- and energy-justice-related technical assistance needs, including support for managing federal grant systems and applying for federal funding. EJ TCTACs cover every region of the country, and each has many local community partners.