Innovation Network Selects New Teams that will Help Unlock Solar in Underserved Communities

Eight teams will participate in the third round of of the Solar Energy Innovation Network.

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Energy dot gov Office of Energy Efficiency and renewable energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office 


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced eight teams that have been selected by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to participate in the third round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). Over the next year, these teams will develop and refine plans for projects that seek to advance equity by reducing barriers to solar access in specific underserved communities.

SEIN is a program funded by DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office that supports multi-stakeholder teams to research and develop solutions to real-world challenges associated with solar energy adoption. The projects announced today are the first in the series focusing primarily on equity.

“DOE is deeply focused on ensuring the clean energy economy benefits all Americans—especially those living in underserved communities, overburdened by pollution, and those impacted by the energy transition,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “By partnering with trusted community-based organizations, the Solar Energy Innovation Network can help us better understand and plan for the unique barriers, challenges, and opportunities these communities face.”

These teams will receive financial and technical assistance over the next year to develop concrete approaches to enable more people to benefit from solar energy. Teams will engage their communities, test their solutions, and learn from each other. They will also develop blueprints that contain strategies and lessons learned so other communities can follow suit. Next spring, NREL will host a symposium to share their results with other organizations facing similar challenges.

NREL will work closely with the following teams as they develop, iterate, and revise their strategies:

  • Houston Advanced Research Center and the Community In-power Development Association will evaluate how communities can lead the deployment of solar microgrids for resilience and keep the benefits in Port Arthur, Texas, a frontline environmental justice community.
  • The Lake Street Council small business association will develop practical tools for small business owners to go solar in three underserved commercial corridors of Minneapolis/St Paul in Minnesota.
  • Salt Lake City, UT will work with community associations and the utility Rocky Mountain Power to advance commercial solar+storage for commercial customers in underserved Latino neighborhoods.
  • RE-volv will work with two faith-based groups, Green the Church and Interfaith Power and Light, to solarize houses of worship in underserved communities, focused initially on three locations around the country, to be chosen through a scalable community identification framework.
  • Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute will work with utility AEP Texas and its low-income energy efficiency-program implementing partners, as well as the Colony Park Neighborhood Association and the Community Services Agency of South Texas, to develop and test possible models for combined financing of solar and energy efficiency for low-income households in two underserved communities—one rural, one urban.
  • Energy Trust of Oregon will work with several community-based organizations, including Adelante Mujeres, Verde, and others, to develop ambassadors from underserved Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities and equip them to educate their neighbors about key actions and resources for adopting solar.
  • ReThink Energy Florida will work with the Greater Frenchtown Revitalization Council and the Greater Bond Neighborhood Association in three underserved communities of Tallahassee, FL, to conduct a Solarize campaign, using bulk purchasing power to attract installers to the low- to moderate-income market segment.
  • Pecan Street will partner with Austin, TX, community organization Go! Austin / Vamos! Austin (GAVA) to define pathways for adapting existing public-private financing programs to support solar adoption among low- and moderate-income households of color.

Learn more about SEIN, including information about Rounds 1 and 2, and DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

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