Solar in your Community - Teams

What to prepare before you apply

How to


How Teams Participate

DOE envisions multi-stakeholder teams, that may include local government entities, non-profit organizations, non-political, non-commercial community-based groups, citizen associations with or without a formal 501(c) status, public housing agencies recognized by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and for-profit organizations, to form and pursue the goals of this competition. With this challenge, DOE hopes to create the right conditions and opportunities for collaboration among all stakeholders to expand access to solar nationwide. 

Register to Participate

  • Register on the platform in order to be eligible to apply

Prepare to Apply

  • Form a team, organize team members, define goals, agree on roles and responsibilities, and make a plan
  • Draft and sign a teaming agreement among the team members and have it handy. DOE will not request a copy of your teaming agreement, but DOE expects that your team have a signed teaming agreement to avoid conflicts among members, during participation in the Challenge
  • Designate a team point of contact (POC), and provide a name, and contact information (e.g. email, phone number, address)
  • Come up with a name for your team and a tagline for your solar project or program
  • For the application, prepare a short video, 3 minutes or less, (e.g. using your smart phone or web camera) to post online for public view on any of the video sharing platforms (e.g. YouTube, Vimeo). Explain in your videos the following:
    • Why (goals & impact): What are they key goals/expected outcomes of the project team? How do these outcomes help your community expand solar access, and why are these expected outcomes unlikely to happen without DOE assistance?
    • How (innovation & plan): What are the largest barriers to deployment and what is the team’s plan for addressing them? What type of consultant does your team need to meet its goals?
    • Who (team & expertise): Who you are? What entities will be included in the project team and why are they well suited to accelerate solar deployment in their community?
  • Prepare a short, public-facing description of your solar project or program not exceeding 700 characters and explain the following:
    • Solar project or program characteristics such as size/capacity, location(s), when it would be completed, off-takers, utility service territory, and key partners
    • The proposed innovation or business model and how it will overcome current barriers, if any
    • The expected socioeconomic benefits to your community expected from your solar project/program (e.g. solar jobs)
  • Prepare a list of consultants or team coaches that you would like to participate in your project (optional)
  • Prepare links to online profiles of no more than five key team members or organizations (e.g. LinkedIn)
  • In the application form, complete the questions describing your plan, team members, and the impact your project or program will have on your community and on advancing the solar market
  • If you need further assistance, teams may schedule a 30 minute session with DOE's prize administrators. (optional)

Submit an Application for Phase 1 Seed Funding

  • Register as a team to join the online community
  • Complete the team application form online
  • Accept terms and conditions that include a statement of compliance and eligibility certification
  • Submit before the deadline. DOE may accept applications on a rolling basis until funds are depleted. Note that completing a team’s profile to join the online community, without completing the team’s application before the deadline, would be insufficient to join the Challenge or receive any awards or provided support.      

How Your Submission Will Be Evaluated

  • DOE determines whether a submission is compliant with the eligibility requirements, responsive to the competition objectives, and compatible with the expected outcomes.
  • DOE-appointed judges evaluate submissions based on the following criteria:
    • Criterion #1 (40%): Impact
      • Value proposition of business case or financial model (money, MW, people)
      • Market potential, based upon the size of the market and the number of possible customers (total, LMI, non-profit)
    • Criterion #2 (30%): Innovation
      • Extent to which evidence is provided that the project or program will implement new and creative ways to overcome existing market barriers; and the extent to which the team is attempting unique models and approaches
    • Criterion #3 (30%): Team & Plan
      • Ability of the team to execute the vision successfully given the team members’ experience and partnerships
  • Judges will score applications according to the criteria, on the 1–5 scale provided in Appendix A: Standard Scoring Guidelines of the Checklist.
  • Each judge will score assigned applications independently and provide selection recommendations. A judge may assign any one of the following selection recommendations:
    • Seed prize and a voucher award
    • Seed prize only
    • Voucher award only
    • Participation without awards
    • Not selected
  • DOE will make a final selection decision based on the final scores and may apply any of the listed program policy factors shown in Appendix C of the Rulebook.

What to Expect During the First Round

  • DOE staff first evaluates the eligibility requirements of each submission. DOE notifies ineligible, non-responsive and incompatible submissions within 30-45 days from submission.
  • A panel of DOE-appointed subject matter expert judges makes a selection decision recommendation based on submitted materials in accordance with the evaluation criteria and the scoring scale.
  • DOE makes the final selection decision of seed prize, voucher award recipients and teams granted permission to participate in the Challenge and access to the Marketplace’s free resources.
  • DOE will electronically notify your team’s POC if your team has been selected to receive seed cash prizes or voucher awards or to participate in the Challenge as outlined in Challenge timeline.
  • In this email notification, DOE includes an overview of next steps, dates for an orientation webinar, guidelines about public selection announcement, media guidelines, and if necessary, acknowledgement documents to be signed by the teams prior to participating in the Challenge. All selected teams will be required to acknowledge and agree to the governing guidelines of the Marketplace to receive the access to the Marketplace and the allocated credits.
  • DOE or its prize administrator will ask winners of seed prizes to complete a W-9 form (IRS Request for Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) and Certification) to receive 30% of total seed prize as a first round payment (Round 1). DOE or its prize administrator will award the remaining rounds (Round 2, 3) including possibly an LMI bonus round, as a team demonstrates completing the required milestones.
  • DOE will also electronically notify non-selected teams prior to the public selection announcement. A non-selected team may obtain a summary of judges’ comments and recommendations upon request by sending an email to DOE.
  • DOE may allow unsuccessful teams to apply again to receive awards contingent on availability of funds and program capacity to accommodate and support additional teams. DOE may close the late application process anytime.
  • DOE and its prize administrator will conduct orientation webinars to selected teams to explain next steps, how to use the Marketplace, how to access DOE-provided resources, success milestones, the evaluation process, and overall expectations for the 18-month performance.

Where to Go for Help

Please contact us with any questions you have. DOE and its prize administrator will maintain a FAQ page online, host regular webinars, and post webinar recordings on the Challenge website.


How Consultants Participate

Consultants may register on the platform and then apply to participate in this Challenge and its expert services marketplace (Marketplace) to support and help participating teams succeed. Interested consultants should first register online then apply to participate in the Challenge. The prize administrator in collaboration with DOE will then qualify the applicants based on the applicable evaluation criteria listed below.

Consultants may be selected to participate in the Challenge as a general consultant, to provide technical assistance to all teams, or a specialized consultant, to provide on-demand technical assistance to teams that select their services through the Marketplace.

Specialized consultants and TA vouchers

DOE will grant approximately $1 million in technical assistance vouchers that are allocated to teams on a first come, first served basis.  

Teams with voucher awards can independently select and work with their preferred specialized on-demand consultant(s) that have been selected to participate in the Challenge. Teams decide which services they need and use their vouchers to pay for these services. The prize administrator will manage the transfer of credits and reimburse consultants for credits collected in the Marketplace.

Qualified consultants are not guaranteed funds, and will only be paid if chosen by teams to provide services.  Teams with vouchers cannot redeem the monetary value of these vouchers in cash or outside the Marketplace.

General Consultants

General consultants will propose specific products and services they would like to provide to all participating teams in the Challenge. These products will be made available on the www.solarinyourcommunity.org website.  Examples of services may include webinars or trainings that are open to all participating teams. All participating teams will have access to general consultants’ products and services, and will not need to use their voucher awards.

CORE AREAS OF INTEREST FOR CONSULTANTS (IN PRIORITY ORDER)

  • Legal
  • Finance
    • Private sector: tax equity, private capital markets, community banks
    • Public sector: Expertise using HUD, LIHEAP, USDA, WAP funding for solar
  • Regulatory, policy expertise
  • Solar program design and business models
  • Low income outreach and education; marketing, customer acquisition
  • Solar project development, procurement, engineering, grid integration
  • Other: software/IT, subscriber management, and data analytics

APPLY TO JOIN AS A CONSULTANT

Register to Participate

  • Register on the platform in order to be eligible to apply as a consultant

Prepare to Apply

  • Review core areas of subject matter expertise needed in the Challenge including the Marketplace (e.g. law, finance, energy regulation) 
  • Decide your role or participation. You may be participate as a:
    • General consultant to provide technical assistance to all teams
    • Specialized consultant to provide on-demand technical assistance to teams that select your services through the Marketplace
  • For the application, specify and define your relevant product and services to be offered.
  • Make a list of all the products and services you plan to provide including any in-kind or pro bono services.
  • Prepare a schedule of products/service describing the type, price breakdown, service duration, engagement schedule (e.g. steps or timeline), availability of service, and capacity (e.g. number of teams for one-on-one or group engagement) 
  • Prepare a publicly-facing overview, not exceeding 1400 characters, of product and services to be shown to Challenge participants, if selected.  
  • Prepare a list of keywords to better tag your products and services
  • Prepare pictures to showcase your products and services
  • Prepare a list of previous customers and reference contact information of at least two customers
  • Prepare a list of publicly available products, case studies, samples of your products offered in the past
  • Prepare links to online profiles of no more than five key members of your organization (e.g. LinkedIn)
  • Prepare a tagline statement describing your services on the Marketplace
  • Designate a point of contact (POC) from your organization, a name, and contact information (e.g. email and phone number) 
  • Schedule a 30 minute session with DOE’s prize administrator to go over your checklist before applying (optional)

How We Evaluate Your Submission

  • The prize administrator in collaboration with DOE determine whether a submission is compliant with the eligibility requirements, responsive to the Challenge objectives, and compatible with the expected outcomes of participating consultants
  • If successful, your submission will be evaluated by the prize administrator staff  based on the following criteria to qualify and select for negotiation:
    • Criterion #1 (40%): Quality of Offered Services
      • Degree to which the proposed services are essential for the success of the teams, and align with the stated core areas of interest (legal, financial, regulatory, program design, business models, low-income outreach and education, solar project development, subscriber management, and data analytics)
      • Degree to which the offered services are specialized, unique, and of high quality
      • Breadth of services offered, including by topic and by geographic availability
    • Criterion #2 (30%): Ability to Execute 
      • Evidence of experience, high quality of past work
    • Criterion #3 (30%): Value of Offering 
      • Value the teams will receive, as measured by affordable pricing, in-kind support , duration of service, availability
  • The reviewing staff will score applications according to the criteria, on the 1–5 scale provided in Appendix A: Standard Scoring Guidelines of the Checklist.
  • Each reviewing staff will score assigned applications independently and will either recommend to invite a submission for negotiation or not 
  • The prize administrator will make an invitation to negotiate based on the final scores and reviewing staff’s recommendations. The prize administrator will contact invited submissions for negotiation and conclude all terms and conditions of offering consulting services to the selected teams.

What to Expect

  • The prize administrator in collaboration with DOE first evaluates the eligibility and completeness of each submission. The prize administrator may notify ineligible, non-responsive or incomplete submissions within 60 days from submission.
  • A panel of the prize administrator reviewing staff makes invitation for negotiation recommendations based only on submitted materials in accordance with the evaluation criteria and the scoring scale
  • The prize administrator will electronically notify the consultant applicant’s main POC and schedule a time for a contract negotiation orientation with set negotiation period not exceeding 30 days.
  • An invitation to negotiate does not guarantee selection/qualifying to participate in the Challenge or the Marketplace as a consultant   
  • The prize administrator will use standardized contracts with set terms and conditions for retaining the services of selected consultant applicants, to accommodate programmatic and operating requirements defined by DOE.   
  • The prize administrator will have a limited ability to modify these standardized contracts. Failure to agree on the standard terms and conditions would be sufficient to terminate negotiation 
  • The prize administrator will negotiate with invited consultant applicants within 15-45 days from a completed submission date or deadline
  • The prize administrator may terminate the negotiation without cause
  • The prize administrator will terminate the negotiation after 30 days from the starting date of the negotiation period, if terms and conditions set by the prize administrator haven’t been agreed upon
  • The prize administrator will be solely responsible for negotiating and procuring consulting services allowed to participate in the Challenge and the Marketplace. DOE will only retain a programmatic oversight to ensure successful execution of the Challenge. DOE will not engage nor mitigate if negotiate between the prize administrator and invited submission applicants fails. 
  •  After selection to participate the prize administrator will conduct orientation webinars to selected consultants to explain next steps including Marketplace onboarding and engaging selected teams.

Where to Go For Help

Please contact us with any questions you have. DOE and its prize administrator will maintain a FAQ page online, host regular webinars, and post webinar recordings on the Challenge website.


APPLY TO JOIN AS A COACH

Coaches help assigned teams pursue their plans throughout the length of the Challenge. Coaches will provide general support to 5 or 10 teams, including giving feedback and advice, through monthly one-on-one calls and weekly office hours. Coaches will also provide progress reports to DOE on a regular basis for each of their teams, connect teams to each other, and share lessons learned and best practices. Coaches receive a fixed stipend-like payment based on the number of teams they help. Coaches are expected to meet the following requirements:

  • Coaches may choose one of two levels of engagement:
    • Work with 5 teams: minimum of 15 hours/month for 18 months. Total compensation is $10,000.
    • Work with 10 teams: minimum of 20 hours/month for 18 months. Total compensation is $15,000.
  • Minimum level of support:
    • Must meet/video conference with each team for at least 1 hour per month
    • Hold office hours at least two hours per week, during which time teams are encouraged to discuss their progress and their needs
    • Coordinate teams including matchmaking and information sharing across assigned teams
    • Provide DOE or its prize administrator brief progress report via email on assigned teams once a month (2 hours/month)
  • Solar expertise, skills and attributes:
    • General awareness of all relevant topics in solar
    • Good record of accomplishment
    • Connected, passionate, available, friendly, communicative, and effective
    • Can work with multiple teams, and has the ability to work under pressure

Prepare to Apply

  • In the application, answer the questions explaining the following:
    • Why you want to coach
    • Your relevant experience, including whom you have helped in the past and how you helped them
    • The impact you’ll have on the teams and how you will make that impact
    • Your availability and max level of effort over the Challenge timeframe (through Oct 2018)
  • Update your profile online (e.g. LinkedIn)
  • Obtain at least one letter of recommendation
  • Schedule a 30 minute session with DOE’s prize administrator to go over your checklist before applying (optional).

How We Evaluate Your Submission

  • The prize administrator in collaboration with DOE determines whether a submission is compliant with the eligibility requirements, responsive to the Challenge objectives, and compatible with the expected outcomes from selected coaches
  • If successful, your submission will be evaluated by the prize administrator staff  based on the following criteria to qualify and select for negotiation:
    • Criterion #1 (40%): Relevant Experience
      • Relevant experience working within the solar industry, key governmental organizations, and/or financial organizations
      • Knowledge of and experience with a wide variety of steps within the solar program or project development process (e.g. program design, soliciting)
    • Criterion #2 (30%): Ability to Execute
      • Positive track record of success in similar types of endeavors
      • Availability over the 18 months period of performance to support the teams
    • Criterion #3 (30%): Inspiration
      • Passion, enthusiasm, and drive to support teams
  • The reviewing staff will score applications according to the criteria, on the 1–5 scale provided in Appendix A: Standard Scoring Guidelines of the Checklist.
  • Each reviewing staff will score assigned applications independently and will either recommend to select an applicant or not 
  • The prize administrator in collaboration with DOE staff may conduct a number of video conference interviews with candidates to make final selection invitations
  • The prize administrator will electronically notify the invited candidates and non-selected applicants

What to Expect

  • The prize administrator in collaboration with DOE first evaluates the eligibility and completeness of each submission. The prize administrator may notify ineligible, non-responsive or incomplete submissions within 60 days from submission.
  • A panel of the prize administrator reviewing staff makes selection recommendations based only on submitted materials in accordance with the evaluation criteria and the scoring scale
  • Prior to a selection invitation, the prize administrator in collaboration with DOE staff   may conduct a number of clarifying calls to finalize selection decision
  • The prize administrator will electronically notify invited applicants within 15-45 days from a completed submission date or deadline.
  • In this electronic notification, the prize administrator will include an overview of next steps, dates for an orientation webinar, a compensation contract to be signed prior to selection, guidelines about public selection announcement, media guidelines, and other related details.
  • The prize administrator will use standardized compensation contracts with set terms and conditions that invited candidates are required to sign prior to joining the Challenge. The prize administrator will have a limited ability to modify these standardized contracts. Failure to agree to these standard terms and conditions or failure to sign the required paperwork would be sufficient to rescind a coach selection invitation.
  • The prize administrator will be solely responsible for contracting and compensating coaches. DOE will only retain a programmatic oversight to ensure successful execution of the Challenge.
  • After all the required contracting paperwork is completed, the prize administrator will conduct an orientation webinar to welcome selected coaches.
  • The prize administrator will also electronically notify non-selected applicants prior to the public selection announcement. A non-selected applicant may obtain a summary of reviewers comments upon request by sending an email request to the prize administrator.

Where to Go For Help

Please contact us with any questions you have. DOE and its prize administrator will maintain a FAQ page online, host regular webinars, and post webinar recordings on the Challenge website.


1 DOE encourages consultants to offer additional services on a pro bono basis. DOE will consider the level of these additional services as support for the prize Challenge under 15 USC 3719(m).

2 DOE encourages consultants to offer additional services on a pro bono basis. DOE will consider the level of these additional services as support for the prize Challenge under 15 USC 3719(m).