Funding Opportunity Coming Soon!- Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas Program

February 14, 2023

Be on the lookout in March! The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) recently announced that they intend to issue a funding opportunity for up to $300 million to improve the cost, reliability, environmental impact, and climate resilience of energy systems in rural or remote areas across the country with 10,000 or fewer inhabitants. 

The anticipated funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for the Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program aims to fund projects with the following three goals:  

  1. Deliver measurable benefits to energy customers in rural or remote areas by funding energy projects that lower energy cost, improve energy resilience, and/or reduce environmental harm 
  2. Demonstrate new rural or remote energy system models using climate-resilient technologies, new business structures and workforce models, new financing mechanisms, and/or new community engagement best practices 
  3. Build clean energy knowledge, capacity, and self-reliance in rural America in order to enhance ease of replicability in similarly situated communities  

For this program, DOE anticipates a federal cost share ranging between $5-100 million. In addition, OCED will be offering a related prize competition, the Energy Rural Communities Prize, and technical assistance to enable capacity building and continuous strategic engagement which will be open for applications in the coming weeks.  

Interested applicants will be required to submit a Community Benefits Plan to outline how the project will support community and workforce engagement, invest in the American workforce, advance energy, and environmental justice, and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Projects funded through this opportunity will help to de-risk investment in the energy infrastructure of rural or remote communities, promoting replicability and insights for future investments. 

To provide equal opportunity to qualified applicants from rural and remote areas across the United States, this FOA is organized into nine geographic regions to reflect regional diversity in energy consumption and access, varying weather patterns, and climate impacts. 

Additionally, distinct from the upcoming FOA, prize, and technical assistance, OCED is developing a simplified approach for projects seeking less than $5 million in federal funding. More about this last category of programming will be announced soon. 

For more information about the characteristics of rural America from an energy infrastructure and socioeconomic basis, including social equity and environmental justice considerations, please visit the ERA Program geospatial map tool.