DOE Announces Grants for Solar America Cities Special Projects and Solar Installer Training

Earlier this year, the Department of Energy issued its Market Transformation Funding Opportunity Announcement for solar installer instructor training, Solar America Cities Special Projects, and a National Administrator of the National Consortium for Solar Installer Instructor Training. On October 8th, DOE announced the the recipients of those solicitations.

Some $10M through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will fund 40 new Solar America Cities Special Projects in 16 cities, enabling them to scale up their most promising projects and concepts to overcome key barriers to urban solar energy use. DOE will then share the lessons learned and best practices from these projects with local governments throughout the nation through a substantial outreach effort planned to launch in early 2010.

The following Solar America Cities Special Projects were selected:

Austin, TX: Solar Curriculum Development and School Demonstration Projects

Berkeley, CA: Smart Solar Regional Expansion and Solar Map Enhancements

Boston, MA: Solar Evacuation Route

Madison, WI: MadiSUN Community Solar Financing, Target Marketing Solar to Businesses, Solar Business Center

Milwaukee, WI: Solar Hot Water Business Council, Solar Water Heating Demonstration Projects and Best Practices Manual, Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing, Solar School Swap

Minneapolis – Saint Paul, MN: Solar for District Heating and Cooling

New Orleans, LA: Third Party Solar Tax Credit Implementation, Sustainable Energy Financing District Implementation

New York City, NY: Smart Solar City Data Acquisition System, Community Solar Financing, Smart Solar Virtual Community

Portland, OR: Solar Now! Regional Outreach Campaign, Neighborhood-Based Volume Solar Purchasing, Residential Solar Power Purchase Agreement Model for Utility-Bill Financing, Neighborhood-Scale Distributed Energy Systems

Salt Lake City, UT: Solar Rebate Program Expansion and Third Party PPA Legal Analysis, Financing Options for Mid to Large Scale Solar Systems

San Diego, CA: Solar Financing Options for Multifamily Affordable Housing, Solar-Powered Fire Shelter Integration into Disaster Response Planning

San Francisco, CA: Debt-Financed Solar Water Heating Retrofits for Affordable Housing, San Francisco Sustainable Financing Program (SF2), Commercial Solar Power Purchase Agreement Model, Solar Financing for Public Schools

San Jose, CA:   Property Assessed Solar Financing through Joint Powers Authority, Solar Loans for City Staff, Qualified Energy Conservation Bond Financing for Revolving Solar Loan Fund, Streamlined Regional Solar Permitting Process, Solar Train the Trainer Internship Program, Solar Career Training for At-Risk Youth, Green Vision Education and Demonstration Center

Santa Rosa, CA:   Clean Energy Advocate

Seattle, WA:  Community Solar Financing through Municipal Utility

Tucson, AZ:  Creative Financing for Municipal Solar Installations, Solar One Stop Shop, Solar Integration into Green Building Codes and Infrastructure Planning

For the solar instructor training, nine colleges, universities, and local organizations were selected to lead regional solar installation “train-the-trainer” programs.

The regional resource and training providers offer train-the-trainer workshops and are jointly responsible for developing curricula, career pathways, and regional labor market studies. These providers are using innovative approaches to training, including distance learning courses and mobile laboratory training modules. Regional resource and training providers offer instructor training in PV and/or solar heating and cooling technologies.

Mid-Atlantic States

The Pennsylvania State University ($3,500,000).  By engaging a broad spectrum of stakeholders, the Pennsylvania State University’s Mid-Atlantic Solar Regional Training Center will support a comprehensive training infrastructure for sales, design, installation, commissioning, and service of both solar PV and solar heating and cooling technologies.

North Carolina State University ($3,008,826).  This project will develop a training program for solar professionals, installation workforce, and local educational instructors. By collaborating with a local energy industry leader, North Carolina State University will also provide additional professional development opportunities to the local workforce such as providing apprenticeships with companies.


Midwest Renewable Energy Association, Inc. ($3,307,709).  The Midwest Renewable Energy Association will provide instructor development opportunities and organize a network of instructors, installers, engineers, administrators, and other industry stakeholders to create and share instructional resources. The program will use team learning methods and collaborative technologies to create instructional resources.

Northeast/New England

Kennebec Valley Community College ($2,886,782).  Kennebec Valley Community College will develop a nationally accepted train-the-trainer program. The goal is to target instructors from community colleges, career and technical education centers, and private industry training incubators in northern New England who are looking to enhance their existing programs through the inclusion of solar heating and cooling installation training courses.

Hudson Valley Community College ($3,497,595).  This project will establish a network of Institute of Sustainable Power Certified instructors across the northeast and develop a solar photovoltaic training facility that will support future instructor training in the region.

Rocky Mountain States

Salt Lake Community College ($3,110,140).  This project will train trainers and offer professional development activities at community and technical colleges that are developing and improving existing solar PV and solar heating and cooling installation courses. This project will also develop and implement train-the trainer courses via the Internet, based on Solar Energy International’s nationally recognized solar photovoltaic and solar heating and cooling curriculum.

South Central

Houston Community College ($3,566,058).  Houston Community College will establish a network of educational, industry, and state partners to ensure the availability and effectiveness of solar installation training throughout the region. This project will also provide professional development opportunities for educators at institutions that wish to start or improve training and education programs in solar installation.


University of Central Florida ($2,800,000).  This project will create the Southern Alternative Energy Training Network, which will develop industry recognized and staff alternative energy training centers throughout the southern U.S. The resulting programs will create a trained pipeline of workers to meet current and future employment demands needed by the solar industry.

West Coast

California Community Colleges Board of Governors ($3,499,828).  The California Solar Training Partnership will create a statewide standardized training curriculum and certification program for solar PV and solar heating and cooling instructors, organize train-the-trainer events, and provide professional development and curricular resources to California Community College faculty, regional occupational programs, and high schools.

No selections were made for a National Administrator of the National Consortium for Solar Installer Instructor Training. The role of the National Administrator is to create, convene, and manage the National Consortium, experts who improve instructional practices in the solar installation process throughout the United States.

According to the website, DOE plans to re-compete this category in a future financial opportunity.

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