On June 1 through August 1 the window is open for applications for SHINE Awards from SMUD.  These awards can create sales opportunities for clean tech companies to install clean energy tech in underserved communities.  Here’s one example:   With a $10,000 award, a community organization in South Sacramento installed the “Friendliest Bus Stop in Town”, adding a bench, shade structure, solar power kiosk cell phone charger/Wi-Fi for public use, free little library, bike rack, bike pump and repair stand.  There are dozens of others that involved installing EV charging stations, new LED lighting, rooftop solar, and high-efficiency HVAC.  

Betty Low, Program Manager in the Sustainable Communities Department at SMUD, explained that the awards could be for as much as $100,000.  There are three levels of awards – the Spark level up to $10,000 (with a 25% match required), the Amplifier level ($10,001 to $50,000 with a 50% match requirement), and the Transformer level ($50,001 to $100,000 with a dollar-for-dollar match requirement).  SMUD is looking for applications in 4 categories:  

Social Well-being

Healthy Environment

Prosperous Economy

Improved Mobility

  • Community education
  • Community safety
  • Infrastructure improvements
  • Collective impact partnerships
  • Under-served community development
  • Air quality improvements
  • Carbon emission reduction
  • Climate readiness
  • Environmental justice
  • Health equity
  • Tree canopy
  • Digital accessibility
  • Economic development
  • Small business development
  • Low-income programs
  • Workforce development
  • Technology skills training
  • Electric vehicle
  • Autonomous transportation
  • Public transit access
  • Charging station
  • Walkability
  • Shared mobility access


These are pretty broad, so be creative.  A list of all the prior awards is on the SMUD website, so take a look at those for some inspiration.

The awards will cover materials, out-of-pocket expenses, consultants and vendors.  Covering staff costs requires paying prevailing wages, but can be done, according to Betty.  Matching money can be contributions of in-kind costs up to half of the match requirement.  

SMUD is making 6 webinars available in the summer to help you understand the requirements and to give an opportunity to ask questions.  Take advantage of one of those if you are interested.  The dates and sign-ups are on the SMUD website as well.  

Thomas Hall


Gary Simon is the Chair of CleanStart’s Board. A seasoned energy executive and entrepreneur with 45 years of experience in business, government, and non-profits.

CleanStart Sponsors

Weintraub | TobinBlueTech Valley, Revrnt, 

Moss AdamsPowerSoft.biz, Greenberg Traurig