Public Power Utilities Eligible To Participate In DOE Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship

April 15, 2022

by Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
April 15, 2022

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently launched a Clean Energy Innovator Fellowship that recruits talent from diverse backgrounds to spend up to two years supporting the work of eligible host organizations, which include electric public utility commissions and public power utilities. The deadline for applying is May 6, 2022.

Innovator Fellows receive a stipend and an educational allowance to support host institution projects that will help decarbonize the power system, electrify transportation and industry, and make the U.S. power system more equitable and inclusive, DOE said.

“The goal of the program is to increase access to clean energy career opportunities across the country and accelerate the national transition to resilient and affordable clean energy,” the federal agency noted.

Host institutions and fellowship candidates must each apply separately to participate in the program. DOE will facilitate the process of matching host institutions and fellows.

Projects may address a wide range of topics, including, but not limited to, grid modernization, equitable and affordable access to clean energy and energy efficiency, integration of electric vehicles and building electrification, resilience planning, interconnection, and rate design.

Projects are defined up front, but they have the flexibility to evolve over the fellowship period, DOE said.

Additional details are available here.

Solar Energy Innovators Program

DOE launched the innovator fellowship due to the success of its Solar Energy Innovators Program (SEIP), which was launched in 2017.

SEIP supports qualified candidates at all career levels as they spend one to two years developing and executing research projects with host institutions pursuing solutions to solar energy deployment challenges. Many the program’s alumni have accepted permanent jobs at their host institutions, and others got permanent jobs doing similar work.

Dr. Paul Brooker was a professor at Central Florida University conducting research on fuel cells, electric vehicles, and solar energy when he applied to the SEIP fellowship.

Brooker spent his fellowship at the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC), a public power utility, simulating the impact of a 108-megawatt solar project on OUC’s operations. He liked the work so much he changed his career. OUC hired Brooker for a full-time job as a supervisor of engineering and research in emerging technologies.  

Brooker’s fellowship mentor, Justin Kramer, a manager at OUC in emerging technologies, says, “Being a host organization was extremely convenient and valuable. This program really helps OUC bridge the gap between academia and industry. Our participation brought a new perspective to the team and innovative approaches as to how we pursue new technologies and engage with universities in a way that benefits both parties.”

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