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Community Research & Project Support

Take advantage of unprecedented funding opportunities for community clean energy solutions

Federal and state climate policies mandate investments in clean energy projects that benefit historically marginalized communities. Billions of dollars are available for projects that support community goals such as:

  • Reducing electricity cost burdens or generating income
  • Lowering emissions and improving local air quality
  • Electrifying key industries and services
  • Sustaining energy supplies during power outages
  • Investigating energy burdens and/or the clean energy transition

Is your community interested in these extraordinary opportunities? Contact — an initial discussion could include:

  • Exploring the scope of your interests in clean energy.
  • Estimating costs, benefits, and impacts of clean energy projects.
  • Identifying the best federal opportunity to meet a particular goal, including creating a community resiliency hub in case of a Cascadia quake, meeting decarbonization targets, or lowering energy bills for low-income residents.
  • Discussing specific data and analysis required to pursue an identified federal opportunity.
  • Conceiving a new tribal enterprise that sells power to a utility.
Example projects


  1. Several teams of UW Engineering seniors worked with the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Jefferson County Emergency Management, and the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office to explore and develop tailored energy resilience designs.
  2. Washington Clean Energy Testbeds staff scientists analyzed clean energy systems design options with the Yakama Nation Housing Authority.
  3. CEI supported co-designed research by Front and Centered and UW civil engineers to understand air quality and health impacts on communities burdened by traditional energy.
, Community Research & Project Support
UW Engineering senior undergraduates met with Clallam County Sheriff's Office and the Port of Port Angeles at Fairchild Airport to support an energy resiliency project in 2023.
Example project timeline

Prep call with CEI — month 0

  • Explore the scope of your interests in clean energy.
  • Discuss specific data and analysis for an identified federal opportunity.
  • Discuss opportunities to fit a range of possible goals,such as creating a community resiliency hub in case of a Cascadia quake, meeting decarbonization targets, or lowering energy bills for low-income residents in tribal housing.
  • Explore technical and economic opportunities to launch a new tribal enterprise that sells power to a utility.

Preliminary data review — month 1

  • Identify data that is relevant to project goals.
  • Retrieve metering data through online utility accounts.
  • Work with utilities to gather additional data.
  • Create a model dataset using (for example) national data adapted to local conditions.

Project scope statement — months 2-3

  • Community liaisons partner with CEI to outline the basic scope, goals, and deliverables for the project.
  • Work back from a due date for a funding opportunity to set intermediate and final goals.

Project execution — months 3-9

  • Weekly one-hour meetings between community liasons and CEI, with updates on work done,reasons for decisions, and progress toward goals.
  • Project site visit to fulfill partner goals such as a presentation to leadership or a classroom visit (UW CEI has a K-12 education program supported by professional staff and graduate trainees).
Community Capstones in Clean Energy with UW Engineering seniors

Within the UW Engineering Industry Capstone Program, CEI established the Community Capstones in Clean Energy course (CHEM E 497B) for UW Engineering senior undergraduates to work hands-on with Washington communities. Community Capstone students work with CEI director Daniel T. Schwartz, Testbeds staff scientist Dr. Bosong Li (see “Technical Analysis”), and community representatives to co-develop clean energy solutions.

Technical analysis at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds

Technical analysis is performed at the Washington Clean Energy Testbeds within its Systems Integration Testbed. The sophisticated computer model of a microgrid is operated by a postdoctoral staff scientist on a world-class Real Time Digital Simulator. The model is based on UW CEI analysis of the Snohomish PUD-Clean Energy Fund microgrid.

The Testbeds user agreement extends data privacy and control of intellectual property to sovereign nations and nonprofit organizations as well as entrepreneurs and companies.

What is a microgrid? How could deploying a microgrid help my community meet its climate goals?

A microgrid is a modular energy generation, storage, and distribution system that behaves as a single entity with respect to a main power grid. A typical design could include a solar panel, a battery, and an inverter with software to manage the flow of electricity.

Microgrids can operate while connected to the grid or independent of the grid. They can help reduce local energy costs by optimizing collective usage, generate revenues by selling excess power back to a utility or a user on the main grid, and provide a resilient source of power if a main grid experiences an outage.

State policies & opportunities

Over the past 10 years, Washington legislators have invested millions in clean energy projects via the Clean Energy Fund. In 2019, the Clean Energy Transformation Act mandated utilities to decarbonize their electricity generation by 2045 and to create equity advisory groups for community oversight of new energy projects.

The 2021 Climate Commitment Act is a “cap-and-invest” policy built on these foundations: it establishes statewide carbon emissions targets for major industries that ratchet down towards 2050, auctions off permits to businesses, and earmarks the revenues for clean energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment. At least 35% of the revenues must be invested in  energy-burdened communities, including urban communities bearing disproportionate health burdens from historical energy use, rural communities vulnerable to high energy prices and a changing climate, and tribal nations that are pursuing resilient energy sovereignty.

The first year of CCA carbon permit auctions raised over $1.8 billion to decarbonize Washington’s economy, significantly exceeding projected revenues of $575 million.

State programs include:

Federal policies & opportunities

The federal Justice40 initiative directs 40% of the benefits from major investments in the Inflation Reduction Act, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law), and the CHIPS & Science Act for communities that are marginalized, underserved, and overburdened by energy production and climate change. As trillions of dollars are being invested in electrification, clean energy deployments, and climate technology research and development, communities have extraordinary opportunities to win support from various agencies with billions in grant funding for projects ranging from resiliency centers for power outages to electrifying agriculture, manufacturing, and transportation.

Federal programs include: