A new federal program is offering grant funding for rural communities to develop community renewable energy projects.
The Rural Energy Pilot Program, launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), will provide up to $10 million in grant funding to connect underserved rural communities to the benefits of community-scale renewable energy. The program aims to help communities cut energy costs, reduce pollution, and address climate change.
Funds will be awarded in the form of cost-share grants for up to 80% of the total eligible project costs. They can be used to deploy community-scale renewable energy projects, including solar, wind, geothermal, mirco-hydroelectric, and biomass/bioenergy. Up to 20% of funds may be used for community energy planning, capacity building, technical assistance, or community efficiency and weatherization.
Applications will receive priority points if projects advance key rural development priorities, including helping communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advancing equity, and combating climate change.
Eligible applicants include nonprofit, state, local, and tribal entities, and municipalities. Priority will be given to communities with high energy burdens, or those that spend a greater proportion of their income on energy costs compared to the average U.S. household.
The deadline to submit a letter of intent is April 19. Application details can be found on the USDA’s Rural Energy Pilot Program webpage.