About the Community Power Accelerator
An initiative of the U.S. Department of Energy's National Community Solar Partnership
The Community Power Accelerator™ bridges the gap between community solar projects that need funding, and the philanthropic organizations and capital providers who want to finance them.
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation (BIL) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) have helped supercharge public and private investment in the clean energy transition. But equitable access to project funding is a persistent barrier to community solar development and holds back widespread clean energy deployment in disadvantaged communities.
Solar developers and community organizations often lack expertise, capacity, and access to pre-development funds to prepare materials for funding applications. Capital providers and philanthropic organizations are understandably reluctant to invest in projects they see as risky or difficult to assess.
The Community Power Accelerator confronts these challenges by building a pipeline of credit-ready community solar projects that provide meaningful benefits to under-served communities, providing developers with training and technical expertise, and connecting them with mission-aligned capital providers and philanthropic organizations that can provide needed capital at the right moment.
The Community Power Accelerator consists of four key services:
- An online platform that helps developers, community-based organizations, philanthropies, and capital providers to easily connect.
- The Learning Lab, which offers developers access to a self-paced community solar 101 training and a longer 10-week intensive course.
- A credit-ready checklist and workbook developed by experienced solar capital providers to help developers create robust project proposals.
- Access to resources and direct, on-demand technical assistance from DOE, National Labs, and third-party subject-matter experts to help developers address challenges.
Are you developing a solar project that benefits your community, and need support or funding? Are you a capital provider, lender or philanthropic organization looking for mission-aligned projects to finance? Join the Community Power Accelerator today to access these resources, and more. Sign Up
Who Can Join the Community Power Accelerator?
Frequently Asked Questions
What is a “credit-ready” community solar project?
A credit-ready community solar project has clearly defined financing, ownership, and subscriber models, is designed to maximize meaningful benefits to subscribers, and has a strong plan to move from conception to completion.
What are meaningful benefits?
Community solar projects should provide benefits to the communities they serve. Those listed on the Accelerator platform must meet at least two of the following criteria to ensure the communities where projects are developed gain meaningful benefits:
- Greater household savings
- Increased access for disadvantaged communities and low- and middle-income households
- Resilience and grid benefits
- Community ownership and other wealth-building opportunities
- Equitable workforce development and entrepreneurship
How can capital providers and lenders be involved?
Capital Providers, including commercial banks, community development financial institutions, green banks, and credit unions, among others, can use the platform to identify and connect to credit-ready community solar projects across the country and territories.
What role can philanthropies play?
Philanthropic organizations, including foundations, charities, individual donors, and impact investors, can use the Accelerator platform to connect with community-based organizations and developers seeking pre-development grants, program-related investments, capacity building, or other gap funding. Philanthropies have a key role to play in supporting community organizations to lead the clean energy transition while ensuring economic development.
Solar developers can learn more about partnering with philanthropies in our resource Are You Philanthropy-Ready? How to Work with Foundations on Mission-Aligned Community Solar.
How can states and municipalities participate?
States, territories, and municipal agencies that have programs to finance community solar can join the Accelerator to discover and support projects in their area, and are also welcome to join the States Collaborative, a peer learning initiative of the National Community Solar Partnership.
What is the Learning Lab?
The Learning Lab consists of a self-paced Community Solar 101 online course, and a longer 10-week cohort-based live remote course that prepares developers to build project portfolios that deliver meaningful benefits to communities at scale. While the online course is available to all at any time, Learning Lab participants are selected by invitation and/or application.
What is the National Community Solar Partnership?
The National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) is a coalition working to expand access to affordable community solar. Led by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), NCSP partners leverage peer networks and technical assistance resources to set goals and overcome barriers to expanding community solar access.
NCSP is working towards a 2025 target of powering the equivalent of 5 million American households with community solar, generating $1 billion in energy bill savings. Based on extensive feedback from community solar stakeholders across all industries, NCSP has developed a pathway to success designed to dismantle these barriers, especially for disadvantaged communities. The Community Power Accelerator is one initiative on the pathway.