Opportunity number
Department of Energy (DOE)
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Due date
Concept paper deadline March 03, 2021, Full Application March 3, 2021
Energy Information Technologies Infrastructure Innovation
Project funding
$3M to $7M
Program funding
Funding size
Up to $7M

Connected Communities


Upcoming Webinar will be held on Tuesday, November 10, 2020, at 2:00pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). The Link to this webinar here

RFP Summary provided by the agency

A Connected Community (CC) is a group of grid-interactive efficient buildings GEB with diverse, flexible end use equipment and other distributed energy resources (DERs) that collectively work to maximize building, community, and grid efficiency. The objective of this FOA is to select projects that will demonstrate how groups of buildings combined with other types of DERs, such as electric vehicle (EV) charging and photovoltaic (PV) generation can reliably, and cost effectively serve as grid assets by strategically deploying efficiency and demand flexibility. By demonstrating the ability of groups of buildings and DERs to modify load, the FOA outcomes will enable increased energy efficiency, reduced energy demand, and reduced environmental impact.

Under this FOA, DOE will select a portfolio of “Connected Community” projects totaling up to $65 million in varying climates, geographies, building types, building vintages, DERs utility/grid/regulatory structures and resource bases. Through funding these projects, DOE hopes to find and share technical and market solutions that will increase demand flexibility and energy efficiency.

For this FOA, a DER is defined as a resource (community-scale or building-scale) that can provide all or some immediate electric and/or power needs and can also be used by the community to either reduce demand (such as energy efficiency) or supply power to satisfy the energy, capacity, or ancillary service needs of the distribution grid. In addition, it should be connected to the distribution system, close to load, and the majority of produced energy should be consumed within the community.

Connected communities can include new construction or existing building retrofits, or a mix. In addition to residential neighborhoods, other examples of building combinations that could make up a connected community include:

  • A university, medical or corporate campus
  • A downtown district of commercial and/or mixed-use buildings
  • A mixed-use development or neighborhood11
  • A non-geographically contiguous collection of buildings within a utility or energy service
  • territory
  • A U.S. national defense or security campus/installation such as a military base, and/or
  • its surrounding community
  • Commercial Industrial Parks including Shipping/Parcel Distribution Facilities, Freight
  • Logistics Centers

What is the mission and focus of the program: research, social, economic or others?

The overall desired outcome from this FOA is to demonstrate, through a portfolio of diverse projects, the ability of groups of buildings and DERs to provide cost effective grid services through demand flexibility and efficiency that maximize use of renewable resources and reduce emissions, while maintaining (if not enhancing) occupant satisfaction and productivity.

How do you submit to this opportunity?

To apply to this FOA, applicants must register with and submit application materials through EERE Exchange at https://eere‐Exchange.energy.gov, EERE’s online application portal.

Who are the target applicants: cities, universities, companies, small business, nonprofits, or others?


Example project(s) summaries from past RFPs:

A few early pilots of connected communities illustrate some of these concepts. For example, through work funded by the Building Technologies Office and OE, Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers have found that, after one year of occupancy, the actual energy consumption of the homes in the Reynolds Landing Smart Neighborhood™ consumed 44% less energy (kWh) as compared to similar homes built to minimum code requirements in Alabama and reduced their peak winter heating demand (kW) by ~34% from what a traditional, all electric community would have otherwise needed because of the highly efficient envelope and the capability to shift heating and cooling loads.

In another example, the AI-driven Smart Community in Basalt, CO is an affordable housing development providing very energy efficient homes with rooftop solar and backup battery storage. The energy system is managed to minimize utility bills for the residents, maximize local solar consumption, support the needs of the local utility grid, and provide resilience in case of power outage. The control system was developed by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory with funding from DOE’s ARPA-E agency and tested under funding from the Solar Energy Technologies Office. The goal of the demonstration is to reduce the adverse impact of solar variability on distribution grid voltage by at least 20% and support critical loads for up to 5 days with DERs in the community. Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Smart Technologies Enable Homes to Be Efficient and Interactive with the Grid” https://info.ornl.gov/sites/publications/Files/Pub139277.pdf

VTO also has example community projects such as the Smart Charging pilots that include Southern California Edison, which as part of their Charge Ready pilot program, deployed nearly 400 networked stations in multi-unit dwellings, workplace, and public locations. One goal of the pilot was to demonstrate demand response (DR) capabilities by reducing the rate of charge by 50%. This was successfully demonstrated using two methods: 1) stations with throttling capabilities were reduced to half charging rates and 2) stations without adjustable charging speeds used a duty-cycling technique, which stopped charging in 15 minute increments for half of the locations’ chargers. In a second example Avista Utilities ran a managed charging pilot program to own, maintain, and install EVSE on a residential or commercial customer premises. To participate in the project, the customers allowed Avista to collect charging data and perform DR experiments. The customers had the option to be notified about upcoming DR events the day before and to opt-out of that event. The project was able to curtail load up to 75% with about a 10% opt-out rate overall for the program for residential sessions. More information about these, and other vehicle electrification projects, can be found at the VTO Annual Merit Review site: https://www.energy.gov/eere/vehicles/annual-merit-review-presentations


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