DOE Announces $25 Million To Help Communities Expand Affordable and Reliable Clean Energy Across America

WASHINGTON, D.C. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced up to $25 million through the Clean Energy to Communities (C2C) partnerships program to help six community teams develop tailored decarbonization strategies and clean energy solutions. Local governments, electric utilities, and community-based groups working closely with experts from DOE’s national laboratories will utilize $8 million in award funding and up to $17 million in technical assistance to research, model, and deploy clean energy systems that are reliable, affordable, equitable, and reflective of local priorities. By helping communities develop customized clean energy solutions, today’s announcement supports the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued efforts to ensure every community benefits from the transition to a clean energy future and reaching President Biden’s ambitious climate goals.  

“The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to ensuring the benefits of our clean energy future reach every American—whether they’re in urban centers or America’s rural heartland,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By connecting communities with innovative tools and know-how from our world-renowned national laboratories, DOE is laying the foundation for the partnerships needed to help transform local clean energy goals and ambitions into reality.” 

C2C offers in-depth technical partnerships which provide collaborations with national lab experts to help communities make informed decisions about their own energy needs and address key challenges across the renewable energy, mobility, grid, and buildings sectors, lowering risks to clean energy deployment.   

Selected community teams and projects include:  

  • Chicago, IL: The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, Commonwealth Edison, and Respiratory Health Association aim to refine tools and analyses to help reach net-zero transportation emissions by 2050. These improved tools will help the region better understand opportunities and challenges from implementing low-carbon transportation technologies, including passenger and freight travel electrification and energy efficient mobility options, while also assessing cross-sectoral interactions with the grid. 
  • Colorado Springs, CO: The City of Colorado Springs, Colorado Springs Utilities, Energy Resource Center, the Housing & Building Association of Colorado Springs, and Careers in Construction Colorado seek to validate concepts that aggregate power across complex energy systems, including virtual power plants. This will support the deployment of large amounts of solar, grid-connected buildings, electric vehicles (EVs), and other distributed resources.   
  • Delaware Valley, PA and NJ: The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission, Philadelphia Electric Company, Bucks County Opportunity Council, Community Action Agency of Delaware County, and the Community Action Development Commission of Montgomery County aim to identify the most impactful clean energy solutions for the Delaware Valley region, and create a Regional Clean Energy Activation Hub that will help facilitate and streamline procurement for identified technologies across its 200+ municipalities. ​ 
  • Moloka‘i, HI: The Hawaiʻi State Energy Office, Hawaiian Electric, Hoʻāhu Energy Cooperative Molokai, Moloka‘i Clean Energy Hui, and Shake Energy Collaborative aims to develop and validate a portfolio of renewable energy generation projects that meets 100% of Molokaʻi’s electricity needs while supporting community values.
  • Pittsburgh, PA: The City of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning, Duquesne Light Company, and the Green Building Alliance plan deploy Smart Electric Energy Districts as part of a comprehensive approach to achieving a clean and affordable electricity system. These districts are comprised of ‘smart’ energy infrastructure, such as rooftop solar, appliances, buildings, energy storage, and EV chargers, and can work together to meet both grid and community needs throughout the city and surrounding areas.
  • Sitka, AK: The City and Borough of Sitka, City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department, Renewable Energy Alaska Project, and Mt. Edgecumbe High School aim to optimize their existing hydropower generation as well as planned solar, wind, and storage projects. They will also explore the potential to use clean energy to produce ammonia, which could be exported and help lower energy costs and emissions for local families and businesses. 

C2C’s earlier pilot partnership with Fairbanks, Alaska, helped local leaders and the area’s electric utility identify innovative ways to expand clean energy generation and utilization while ensuring reliability ahead of a planned coal plant closure. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) received a prestigious R&D 100 award for the development of a simulation and emulation platform used to implement the pilot project. 

Near-Term Clean Energy Solutions for Communities
DOE also announced it has supported over 50 communities in 25 states and Puerto Rico through C2C’s expert match program, which provides between 40 and 60 hours of tailored technical assistance to help communities and local leaders address short-term energy challenges.  

Past collaborations include partnering with Black Farmers’ Collaborative to plan solar panels for Florida farms and churches and helping Cohoes, NY build the nation’s first municipally owned floating solar system and evaluate plans to retrofit historic buildings.  

Collaborative Peer Learning Opportunities to Advance Clean Energy Strategies
DOE also announced the next topics for C2C’s peer-learning cohorts. These cohorts will regularly convene approximately 10-15 communities over six months to exchange strategies and best practices and learn from each other and national laboratory experts on the following topics: 

  • Evaluating and Prioritizing Municipal Buildings for Energy Efficiency and Decarbonization Investment 
  • Enhancing Resilience at Critical Municipal Facilities Through Solar, Storage, and Microgrids 
  • Designing Engagement to Shape Community-Wide Transportation Electrification  

Applications for these cohorts are expected to open on Monday September 18, 2023 and close on October 31, 2023. These new cohorts are joined by 77 communities from across the United States who are currently or have previously participated in C2C’s peer-learning cohorts.  

The Clean Energy to Communities program provides communities with expertise and tools to achieve their clean energy goals. C2C is funded by DOE and managed by NREL, with additional support from Argonne National Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. 

Learn more about NREL and C2C, including how to apply for short-term assistance

Selection for award negotiations is not a commitment by DOE/NREL to issue an award or provide funding. Before funding is issued, DOE/NREL and the selectee will undergo a negotiation process, and DOE/NREL may cancel negotiations and rescind the selection for any reason during that time. 

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