**Some programs are limited. Please read solicitations carefully and consult your Office of Research for specifics, such as limited applications through your university and internal application deadlines.**

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), authorizes DOE to invest $1 billion in energy improvements in rural or remote areas. DOE’s 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 that are replicable and scalable. ERA aims to fund clean energy projects with three specific goals:

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; and Build clean energy knowledge, capacity, and self-reliance in rural America.

Ensuring Direct Benefit to Rural or Remote Areas

This FOA is designed to enable citizens in rural or remote communities to realize material benefits as the result of investment in their energy infrastructure. These benefits can include, but are not limited to: lower energy costs, improved energy access, economic resilience, and environmental protection from adverse impacts of historic energy generation. Selected projects will implement cost-effective clean energy technologies that promote the overall resilience of the local energy system against climate impacts, and support more diversified rural economies better able to weather economic shocks.

To ensure that these benefits are spread equitably across affected communities applicants are required to submit a Community Benefits Plan (CBP). This plan outlines how the project will support community and labor engagement, invest in the American workforce, contribute to the President’s goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities (the Justice40 Initiative), and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA). DOE recognizes that applicants have different levels of capacity and experience related to this kind of community-focused planning, and will support FOA awardees to develop and implement robust, locally tailored, and measurable plans.

Consistent with the objectives of this program, OCED expects projects to utilize local staff and local resources to the maximum extent possible. If external resources are necessary, projects funded under this FOA and any related activities will seek to encourage meaningful engagement and participation of local business organizations, labor unions, underserved communities and underrepresented groups, federally recognized Tribes and tribal and indigenous communities and native entities.

Promoting Community Energy Solutions for Regional Climate Challenges

Selected projects will promote community energy solutions to improve the cost, reliability, environmental impacts, and climate and economic resilience of energy generation in rural or remote communities. Applicants are required to identify at least one applicable region for the project, along with any regional climate risk(s) the project is proposing to help mitigate. OCED seeks applications that leverage a region’s natural resources, local industry, stakeholders, climate and/or economic risks, or other factors, as such factors may be critical towards the ultimate replicability of the project in other rural or remote areas within the region. OCED encourages applicants to identify regional challenges and opportunities as they see fit based on their own assessment of their community’s energy challenges, needs and opportunities.

Ensuring Project Replicability

Replicability is key to market adoption of technologies to benefit rural or remote areas beyond those participating in the ERA Program. The program seeks to build confidence of decision makers to invest in clean energy in rural and remote areas, including financiers, utilities, and Tribal, State, and local governments, who can enable replication.

Proposed projects can demonstrate established, commercial technologies for the first time in a new setting or place, or at a larger scale; an innovative approach to improve siting and permitting timelines; enabling energy access for homes/communities that do not have access to electricity; self-reliance, or reduction in environmental harm from generation; economic development and local job creation leading to more overall economic resilience, and/or an innovative technology application in a rural or remote area.

 Application Deadline:

  • Concept Paper Submission Deadline: 4/14/2023 5:00 PM ET
  • Full Application Submission Deadline: 6/28/2023 5:00 PM ET

Announcement: https://oced-exchange.energy.gov/Default.aspx#FoaId90cf93a3-9947-4d2e-b1fb-f98d7b30cdab