- Granting Agency: Dept. of Energy, Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations
- Appropriation Amount: $300,000,000
- Grant Amount: $5-100 Million
- Announcement Date: March 1, 2023
- Closing Date: April 14, 2023 (Concept Papers)
The Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program will provide financial investment, technical assistance, and other resources to advance clean energy demonstrations and energy solutions in rural and remote areas that can be replicated and scaled. This program was created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The goals of the program are to:
- Deliver measurable benefits to energy customers in rural or remote areas by funding replicable energy projects that lower energy costs, improve energy access and resilience, and/or reduce environmental harm.
- Demonstrate new rural or remote energy system models using climate-resilient technologies, business structures that promote economic resilience, new financing mechanisms, and/or new community engagement best practices.
- Build clean energy knowledge, capacity, and self-reliance in rural America.
Applications must identify at least one area in the United States (including U.S. territories) with a population of not more than 10,000 inhabitants that benefits from the proposal. The proposed applicant and subrecipient(s) must be domestic entities.
The following types of entities are eligible to participate as prime recipients or subrecipients:
1. Institutions of higher education
2. Non-profit entities
3. For-profit entities
4. Tribal Nations
5. State and local governmental entities
6. Incorporated Consortia
7. Unincorporated Consortia
Topic Area 1: Community-Scale Demonstrations
o Overview: Proposals to implement clean energy projects with a Federal cost share of at least $5 million and at most $10 million, using one or more clean energy technologies that advance resilience and provide other benefits to one or more rural or remote communities.
o Example projects: Microgrid designs and service models that enable cost-competitive deployment to a broad set of rural or remote communities; small hydropower systems providing community benefits; hybrid configurations of distributed energy resources that are operable during extreme weather events; and demonstrating operation of existing technologies to new climates.
Topic Area 2: Large-Scale Demonstrations
o Overview: Proposals to implement clean energy projects with a Federal cost share of at least $10 million and at most $100 million. Large-scale demonstrations should benefit multiple communities, either through a single installation that benefits multiple rural or remote communities, or through a series of installations with similar or complementary characteristics across multiple communities.
o Area of Interest – Aggregation. Similar projects at multiple locations in a manner that leads to a demonstratable benefit relative to conducting that project at only one location.
Example project: Solar and/or wind farms, with or without energy storage, in multiple locations that share a common administrative and support staff.
o Area of Interest – Single-Site Projects. Projects that involve a single installation site that can enable replication of a solution and/or benefit multiple rural or remote communities.
• A utility-scale solar, wind farm and/or hydrogen or battery storage facility.
• A bioreactor that uses locally available biomass to replace fossil fuel generation.
• A renewables project that delivers significant additional benefits to a local community.
• A transmission investment that reduces reliance on fossil fuels.
• Clean energy generation in an area having trouble attracting investment due to geographic isolation.
The program FOA highlights potential challenges and technologies for Alaska (table 2):
Common Regional Energy Challenges
• Providing affordable, reliable, resilient energy for small, isolated populations
• Reliance on costly diesel fuel
Example Regional Technology Solutions
• Small-, large-scale, and long-duration storage