Launched in 2016, the Community EnergyGround-mounted solar panels at COA's Beech Hill Farm, installed during the Practicum in Renew...Ground-mounted solar panels at COA's Beech Hill Farm, installed during the Practicum in Renewable Energy course.
Center (CEC) builds on existing sustainability and renewable energy efforts at College of the Atlantic and on Mount Desert Island to research, develop, and implement innovative projects that enable people and business owners to reap the financial and social benefits of transitioning away from fossil fuels. 

Working in partnership with COA students, faculty, and staff, a primary objective of the CEC – and key to our theory of change - is to foster collaboration among multiple stakeholders within a community in the pursuit of a common goal: sustainability. 

COA students have visited the Samsø Energy Academy through classes and internships since 2014.COA students have visited the Samsø Energy Academy through classes and internships since 2014.From Denmark to Maine

Inspired by COA’s collaborative work with the Samsø Energy Academy in Denmark, the creation of the Community Energy Center represents the culmination of several years of sustainability and energy work at COA. In 2007, Samsø became the world’s first 100% renewable energy island through a collaborative process that centered local participation and prioritized rural economic development through local energy ownership. The CEC aims to similarly spark local energy initiatives across Maine to help citizens take control of their energy future. 

Summer Energy Fellowship

Year-round student engagement with local projects is fostered through the annual Summer Energy Fellowship program, which employs several COA students full-time throughout the summer. Summer Energy Fellows spend 11 weeks working in the Community Energy Center on energy and sustainability projects, and often earn internship credit for their work. This program is designed to give advanced students the opportunity to work in collaboration with CEC staff and with community members to develop their professional skills in the sustainability field. Fellows have worked with community members to determine the feasibility of community solar arrays and electric vehicle charging infrastructure paired with photovoltaics, and have performed numerous free solar analyses for local small businesses and farms as part of our flagship Solar for Businesses and Farms (SBF) program. If you are a COA student interested in the Summer Energy Fellowship program, please contact us for more information or to submit an application. 

2019 Summer Energy Fellows

Savier Morales ('21) and Judith Tunstad ('22)Savier Morales ('21) and Judith Tunstad ('22)

2018 Summer Energy Fellows

Junesoo Shin ('18), Agim Mazreku ('18), Aura Silva Martínez ('18), and Jonás Pinzón O...Junesoo Shin ('18), Agim Mazreku ('18), Aura Silva Martínez ('18), and Jonás Pinzón Osorio ('19)

Our Funding

The work of the CEC, including the Summer Energy Fellowship program, is currently funded by grants from the Henry David Thoreau Foundation and the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America (REAP)/Renewable Energy Development Assistance (REDA) program. The Thoreau Foundation seed-funds visionary programs at U.S. undergraduate institutions that foster environmental leadership and engaged scholarship, and the USDA REAP/REDA program aims to increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements, helping to lower energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.