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Learn about current federal funding for tribal clean energy projects from the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Office of Indian Energy

BRANDON KIGER: Welcome, everyone. I'm Brandon Kiger, today's webinar host. I'm a contractor supporting the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs Tribal Energy Webinar Series. Today's webinar titled, Funding for Transitioning Tribal Communities to Clean Energy, is the second webinar of the 2023 DOE Tribal Energy Webinar Series. Let's go over some details.

Today's webinar is being recorded and will be made available on DOE's Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs website in about one week. Copies of today's presentation slides will be posted to the Office of Indian Energy's website shortly after this webinar, if not already. Everyone will receive a post-webinar email with a link to the page where the slides and recording will be located.

Because we are recording this webinar, all phones have been muted. We will answer your questions, your written questions, at the end of today's final presentation. You can submit a question at any time by clicking on the question button located in the webinar control panel at your screen-- on your screen and type in your question.

Let's go ahead and get started with opening remarks from Lizana Pierce. Miss Pierce is a senior engineer and deployment supervisor for the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and duty stationed in Golden, Colorado. She's responsible for the execution of the deployment program which is national in scope. Specifically, the deployment program includes financial assistance, technical assistance, education, and outreach.

She has also implemented national funding opportunities. She has nearly 30 years of experience in travel project development and management and has been assisting tribes in developing their energy resources for over 20 years. Miss Pierce holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Colorado State University, and Lizana, the virtual floor is now yours.

LIZANA PIERCE: Thank you, Brandon, and hello, everyone. I join Brandon in welcoming you to today's webinar. This webinar series is sponsored by the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. Otherwise, for short, Office of Indian Energy. This year's webinar series is entitled, A Tribe Seizing the Opportunity for a Clean Energy Future. The federal funding going towards climate change solutions and to tribal communities is unprecedented.

Seizing upon this once in a lifetime opportunity will be key to managing the climate crisis, lessening the gas inequity, while increasing energy sovereignty. This webinar series will look at how tribes can participate in this energy transition. And with this in mind, this year's webinar series will primarily be focused on bringing you timely information on federal funding to technical assistance opportunities, incentives, and other provisions that may impact your energy project.

We do hope today's webinar and the webinar series as a whole helps you navigate the opportunities that exist in managing your clean energy future. We hope this is useful to you, but we welcome your feedback on the webinar and the webinar series. So please let us know if there are ways we can make it better. You can send feedback to our main email at indianenergy@hq.doe.gov.

Before we move on to the other presenters, I want to provide some information on the Office of Indian Energy and briefly highlight a few funding opportunities and resources. The Office of Indian Energy is a congressional charter is to promote Indian energy development, efficiency, and use, reduce or stabilize energy costs, enhance and strengthen Indian tribal energy and economic infrastructure, and bring electric power and services to Indian lands and homes.

Next slide, please. To provide this assistance, our deployment program partners with Indian tribes and Alaska Native villages to overcome the barriers to energy development. Our deployment program is comprised of a three-pronged approach consisting of financial assistance, typically through competitive process, technical assistance at no charge, and education and capacity building. This tribal energy webinar series is an example of our education and capacity building efforts. For this presentation, we're going to focus on funding opportunities and resources.

So since 2010, the DOE's Office of Indian Energy has invested over $120 million to more than 210 tribal energy projects across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These projects with cost share are valued at over $215 million. Through these grants, the Office of Indian Energy continues its efforts to partnership with Native communities to maximize the deployment of clean energy solutions for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The deployment of energy projects in these communities has had some real tangible impacts, including nearly 46 megawatts of new generation installed on tribal lands, and collectively, $315 million saved in communities over the lifetime of those systems. It is a fact that nearly 8,800 tribal buildings across the Indian country and for-- and resulted in a savings of $3.38 for every dollar DOE's invested.

By the way, this slide shows our tribal energy projects database on our website, and it's an interactive map. We have a sortable table. You can find project summaries, presentations, and final reports that are completed on the website if you're interested. Next slide, please. Now, onto funding opportunities. On February 17 of this year, the Office of Indian Energy issued a funding opportunity announcement valued at $50 million for clean energy technology deployment on tribal lands.

Under this funding opportunity announcement, clean energy technology deployment on tribal lands, the office is soliciting applications from Indian tribes, including Alaska Native regional and village corporations, inter-tribal organizations, and tribal energy development organizations to install clean energy generating systems and energy efficiency measures on tribal buildings or to deploy community scale clean energy generating systems or energy storage on tribal lands, to install integrated energy systems for autonomous operations, to power single or multiple essential tribal buildings during emergency situations, or for tribal community resilience, and also to provide electric power to and electrify tribal buildings.

Applications under the funding opportunity announcement are due May 16. More can be found on the IE Exchange website at ie-exchange.energy.gov. We do expect to make $50 million available in federal funds for new awards and anticipate 10 to 25 awards under this ranging from less than $100,000 to a maximum of $2 million for facility scale projects and for no less than $250,000 to a maximum $4 million for community-scale projects.

There is a 20% cost share of the total allowable costs of the project that total allowable costs are the sum of the daily share and the recipient share. And all costs must come from non-federal sources, unless otherwise allowed by law. And there are some instances, quite a few instances, where [INAUDIBLE] can be used as non-federal cost here, and that's documented in the funding opportunity announcement.

However, if requested, there may be a cost share reduction opportunity to 10% based on poverty rate and medium-household income of the tribal community relative to the state-wide medium-household income. Applications and forms and templates and the document instructions on how to apply, including the cost share reduction template, are available on IE Exchange by ie-exchange.energy.gov.

Note that the templates are available and forms. However, there are quite a few components of an application that will be applicant generated. Again, you can find full information on IE Exchange. Next slide, please. So on February 8, the Office of Indian Energy issued a notice of intent to release $15-- to release a $15 million funding opportunity announcement or FOA this spring to install clean energy technology at tribal colleges and universities.

Through this plan, FOA, the Office of Indian Energy intends to solicit applications from tribal colleges and universities for clean energy project planning and clean energy technology deployment. It's anticipated that a 10% cost share will be required, and awards will range from $100,000 to $250,000 for planning grants and from $1 million to $3 million for deployment grants. If you're interested in that, you can subscribe to our email list at energy.gov/indianenergy.

Next slide, please. Again, full details of all the Office of Indian Energy funding opportunities are on IE Exchange on here. And all questions related to issues funding opportunity announcements can be sent to tribalgrants@hq.daily.gov. And there's also some frequently asked questions on those to supplement a funding opportunity announcement.

Next slide, please. I did want to also bring to your attention that the DOE loan program office provides direct loans and has a $2 million available for partial loan guarantees for tribal energy development projects. More information can be found on the website or by contacting Matt Ferguson. These slides will be made available so you'll have that information.

Next slide, please. So in addition to the Office of Indian Energy funding opportunities, and those that you'll hear about today, I wanted to bring to your attention a few resources. The DOE Office of Indian Energy current funding opportunities web page includes tribal-specific opportunities, not only through our office but through the Department of Energy and other federal agencies. You can also receive information on those by subscribing to our email list.

So the clean energy infrastructure program and funding opportunity announcements identifies opportunities for $97 billion through the bipartisan infrastructure law and the Inflation Reduction Act. And you see the website there where you can find more information on those. Also, a more general website and possible funding opportunities across the government, the energy communities funding opportunity page shown on the right includes information on competitive opportunities, tax credits, state-based funding, and a funding clearinghouse, which can be sorted by eligible recipient or by topic.

And that may be useful to you as well. It's a great website. Next slide, please. I think I had that in there twice. Next slide. (LAUGHS). So thank you for your time and attention. Hopefully, some of these resources will be useful to you. If you have questions, or we can assist, you can contact us on our main help-desk phone and email.

Please reach out, and we can hopefully direct you to resources throughout our office, the department, and other agencies, and join us on Twitter and Facebook at DOE Indian Energy. Next slide. And I'm going to hand that back to, Brandon. Thank you.

BRANDON KIGER: Thanks, Lizana. So we just heard from Lizana. Our next three speakers are from the US Department of Agriculture and include Tedd Buelow, Christopher A. McLean, and Mark Brodziski. Tedd is the tribal coordinator for the USDA rural development. In his role, he leads the tribal team with the innovation center's strategic engagement division that works to increase access to RDE's programs for tribes.

Tribal members and organizations focused on improving the quality of life and economic opportunity through the Indian country in Alaska. And between stints at USDA, Tedd works for the TDFI fund on the Native American program team. Prior to that, he worked for the USDA RDE's community development programs as a desk officer for the Northwest region. Tedd began his federal career as a volunteer with the Peace Corps in the Eastern High Atlas National Park in Morocco.

And since 2015, Christopher A. McLean has served as the assistant administrator for the rural utility service electric programs. He also served as acting administrator for the agency from the beginning of the Biden administration until October 2022 when Andy Burke was appointed administrator.

The rural utility service is a USDA rural development agency that provides loan and grant financing for electric infrastructure, including renewable energy, energy efficiency, smart grid technology, and grid modernization, EV charging station infrastructure, telecommunications and broadband infrastructure, and water and wastewater facilities serving rural communities.

Mr. McLean presides over a $48 billion loan portfolio, and in recent years, the RUS has seen an annual lending budget for new electric infrastructure loans exceeding $5 billion. Mr. McLean hails from Omaha, Nebraska. He received his masters in law international comparative law from Georgetown University in 1985, and his JD from Creighton University School of Law in 1982, and a degree in business administration from Creighton University in 1980.

And then finally, from the USDA, we have Mark Brodziski is serving as the deputy administrator as USDA rural development rural business cooperative service. In this role, Mr. Brodziski oversees a portfolio of grant loan, loan guarantees, and technical assistance programs and cooperative development services that spur economic development, support creation of rural jobs, and improve the quality of life throughout rural America.

Serving in the USDA, Mr. Brodziski aims to enhance opportunities to assist rural communities and rural stakeholders in expanding access to capital, support local workforces and local markets, leverage community assets, and cultivate the bioeconomy to strengthen rural communities and help build community resilience to climate change. A native from state of Wisconsin, Mr. Brodziski began his career with USDA Farmers Home Administration in 1983 and served in several USDA county and state office positions before joining the USDA rural business cooperative service national office in 2011.

Following presenters from the USDA, we will hear from Jenny Sumner on the Clean Energy to Communities Program. Jenny is a group manager with a modeling and analysis group in the accelerated deployment and decision support center. She joined NREL in 2009 and has researched topics such as equitable solar deployment and community solar deployment and costs, most recently serving on a detail assignment with the US Department of Energy Office of Economic Impact and Diversity to support implementation of President Biden's Justice 40 executive order.

She has extensive experience managing technical assistance programs for local governments, higher education institutions, and community solar stakeholders. She is the principal investigator for the clean energy communities program supported by the US Department of Energy.

Following Jenny, we will hear from panelists from the DOE's Office of Clean Energy Demonstration, including Michael Kuca and Brian O'Donnchadha. Michael Kuca is an engineer with P energy improvement in rural or remote areas program. He works with rural communities to develop and construct energy improvement projects. Prior to his work with OCED, Mike served as an engineer to deploy energy projects with DOE's Office of Indian Energy and the loan program office.

Brian O'Donnchadha is the tribal liaison for the Office of Clean Energy demonstration. He is part of OCED's engagement office and interacts with Indian tribes and villages OCED, the nation to share information about OCED's energy development programs across the nation. Prior to OCED, Brian worked as a federal preservation officer and tribal liaison with the Western Area Power Administration and has expertise in environmental compliance and environmental protection.

And then, finally, we have-- following Mike and Brian, we will hear from Adam Hasz. Adam is an implementation advisor and the acting tribal liaison for the IRA home energy rebates team with the DOE Office of State and Community Energy Programs. In this role, Adam and his team are working to design the national program guidance for $8.8 billion in rebates funding that will be distributed to states, territories, and tribes in late 2023.

Adam previously worked in the building technologies office at DOE where he helped launch the advanced building construction initiative. Adam joined DOE as a science and technology policy fellow in 2018 and holds a master's degree in urban planning from MIT. Thank you to each of our presenters for making the time to join us today.

And as a reminder, please feel free to submit a question at any time by clicking on the question button located in the webinar control panel on your screen and type in your question. We will answer your written questions at the end of today's final presentation. With that, let's get started with our next presentation. Panelists from the USDA, you may proceed once your slides are up.

TEDD BUELOW: Thank you so much, Brandon. How do I sound?

BRANDON KIGER: You sound good. We hear you.

TEDD BUELOW: Wonderful, so my name is Tedd Buelow, as mentioned. I work at USDA rural development as the tribal relations team lead. I'm joining you today from Denver, Colorado. Super excited and grateful to DOE for having us on their webinar today. Our speakers are Mark Brodziski and Chris McLean. I've learned tons from them over the last 15 years to two decades. They're wonderful senior leaders of their respective programs, and we're running a bit short on time already so I'm going to hand the presentation over to Mark. If you could go to the next slide, please, Brandon.

MARK BRODZISKI: OK, thank you, Tedd. Yes, this is Mark Brodziski with the rural business quatra service. I'll start off with, of course, a welcome. Hello to all those joining the webinar today and a big thank you to the DOE Office of Indian Energy. We're so glad to have the opportunity to meet with the team here and talk a little bit about one of our programs, the Rural Energy for America program. To highlight this program, the program, I'll talk about unprecedented funding went from a $50 million a year program to $2 billion with the help of the Inflation Reduction Act.

We'll go to the next slide, please. I think we're-- yeah, so this program-- and I'll focus on some highlights of the program first just to give a good feel for the program, talk a little bit about eligibility, and what the program can assist in and then circle back to the funding opportunity, the application process through this. To those of you that are familiar with the program, please note that we are making some significant changes in how the program operates and the opportunities to engage in the program.

So we're glad to highlight that for you today. The program does provide grants, loan guarantees, and of course, the combinations of the two. Today, I'll focus mostly on the grant program, but I'll highlight just a couple of profiles on the guarantee side. So next slide, please. The program supports in generally two types of systems, its renewable energy systems and projects that result in energy efficiency improvements to make energy efficiency improvements.

There is a third component, and that's under the guaranteed loans for agriculture producers for basic purchasing, installing, energy efficiency, equipment, and systems. Mainly, this is a controlled climate agriculture in other more highly technical and efficient agricultural production systems. So again, that's going to take a little bit more time for me to go through than we have today. But for those of you that are interested in activities such as that, we'll have some contact information at the end, and we can dive a little further into that maybe offline. But I'll focus on renewable energy systems and the energy efficiency improvement projects.

So next slide, please. First, I'll talk about eligibility in the next slide. There are two general categories of applicants that are eligible for the program. The first are agricultural producers. An agricultural producer could be a person or entity in an Indian country, could include either nonprofit, public, could be tribally owned production operations, as long as the enterprise earns or generates revenues.

More than half of their revenue is generated from agricultural operations could qualify for the program as an agriculture producer. The second category in-- next slide, please-- are rural businesses. Rural businesses generally are for-profit entities but do include electric utilities, including tribal or public electric utilities and also include tribal corporations that are chartered under Section 17.

So tribal enterprises would also be eligible for the program. A rural business could be an entity, a special purpose entity, stood up just for this program, to operate a facility or renewable energy project. So I think there are a lot of opportunities in Indian country to engage in the program. Again, it could be an individual tribal member. It could be the tribe itself or tribal enterprises engaged in the program. Next slide, please.

In types of projects, we'll start with the energy efficiency improvement projects. And first, I'll just highlight that the listing here are simply examples. The test, in essence, is a project that reduces use consumption of energy could qualify for the program, and these are simply more of the common types of activities that are utilized.

So the examples are high efficiency lighting, maybe updating heating or cooling systems, including refrigeration, HVAC systems, ventilation, but just generally, control systems. So for a business, for a processing system, simply updating equipment that is more energy efficient would be eligible for the program. Improving the base of the envelope of a building such as doors, windows, insulation would also be eligible for the energy efficiency component.

Irrigation systems. The purpose of the project may be to improve efficiency such as water utilization or efficiency in processing throughput that simply results in less energy being consumed. So those type of activities would be eligible for the program. On the renewable energy side in-- next slide, please. This slide lists the types of energy systems that are eligible, and these are specific.

So it's what are commonly referred to as, of course, renewable energy. So it's solar, wind, hydroelectric projects. Under the biomass, of course, anaerobic digesters would be digesting of biomass but also converting biomass to renewable fuels. Our little icon here shows a wood log. So, yes, solid wood. Solid biomass is also eligible for the program.

Geothermal systems, either direct or indirect. Heat pumps or geothermal that generates electricity. So all scales, all sizes are eligible. Wind ocean power is eligible, and also hydrogen that is produced using a renewable energy source in water or using biomass could be eligible for the program. I'll highlight in this that-- please note that the header of this is renewable energy systems.

So it's not just the equipment that generates or produces the energy. It's the entire system could be eligible for the program. For example, under an electrical system, if storage is part of that system, battery storage or other electrical storage, the components could be eligible for the program. Also, the equipment or systems infrastructure needed to move the energy to the point of its first sale or use would be eligible for the program.

Let's go the next slide, please. A little bit more into the types of purchase or the eligible purposes in use of grant funds. So, again, it's for the purchase and installation of an equipment. Now, it could be new equipment or refurbished. So used equipment simply that's bought as used equipment installed would not be eligible, but if it's refurbished, in other words, retooled, improved, that would be eligible.

As I noted, a storage or the infrastructure needed to utilize of the energy, such as microgrids or other structures, could also be eligible for the program. I would highlight that on the ineligible piece, residential projects are not eligible. By that, we mean a homeowner, for example, if they're interested in installing a solar system on their house, would not be eligible. An apartment complex that is residential would not be eligible.

That said, a utility, a business, you could establish a system and sell energy to homeowners or apartment buildings or other structures. So it's, again, quite a good opportunity to engage in the program. Next slide, please. [INAUDIBLE] is to the grant amounts and also have a similar slide on the loan side. First, I would note here that at the very header of the slide, it talks about up to 40% of eligible project costs. That will change.

So the funding in this program, majority of the funding, now comes through the Inflation Reduction Act, and that act increased the opportunity for grants to be up to 50% of eligible project costs. Right now, we're at 40%. As I finish my presentation here, I'll update you that as to how that's going to be changed, but the grants may support projects up to a total grant of $1 million on renewable energy systems, or $500,000 on energy efficiency systems.

If we're looking at a combination loan and grant, the total of loan and grant funds cannot exceed 75% of the eligible project costs. And when we're referring to that percentage of eligible project costs, it actually refers to the total of federal funds into the project. So for example, if someone wanted to layer projects with more than one federal grant source, the percentages would apply to all federal funds, grant funds. It does not apply to the loan fund side of things.

In the next slide, we'll highlight a little bit on the loan program. So the loans are guaranteed loans that we would guarantee a loan from a lender, a bank, into a project. Loans can be up to $25 million. So some significant size in projects. We also could partner with other lending programs or activities to finance a project. And again, the guaranteed loan is a guarantee to a commercial lender. We are not the lender in this program.

OK, why don't we go to the next slide, please. So I'm just going to highlight just a couple of examples. I'll roll through these really quickly. There's two types of projects that are pretty common within the program. So solar, of course, is probably the number one use of funds within the program, and solar could be rooftop, as we show here in this slide or the next slide, please-- could be ground mounted systems. This one happens to be a little bit larger system.

This is probably supported with a grant, could also be guaranteed loans. Most of our guaranteed loan activity are also on solar systems. And next slide, please. Other systems, this is a micro hydro. So basically, what this system is doing is you see this little side stream here in this picture. Basically, it's that side stream in the flow in that stream that is powering this little generator, the micro hydro, to produce electricity.

Next slide, and this is a pretty larger geothermal heating system, but basically, it's a large geothermal using groundwater as a heating cooling source. We have quite a increasing activity in this. There's been a lot of improvements, and geothermal systems, they use air to air or air to water exchange systems. So these systems could be eligible both as a renewable energy system, or it could be an energy efficiency system if the conversion of the energy source is more efficient than an existing system.

Next slide, please. Just equipment, of course, on the energy efficient side would also be eligible. This is just an example of a little laundry facility in a rural community. They've replaced their washer and dryers with more energy efficient equipment. That was eligible for the program. Next. Lighting and refrigeration and cooling, as I noted earlier, are very common. We've also noted responses back from applicants and participants in the program that many businesses, when they make these types of improvements, they see some significant side benefits.

For example, in lighting, we hear a lot that the business is-- especially in manufacturing-- is experiencing a better safety record as to just the improved lighting and production within their facility. And on the cooling, lighting, and refrigeration, in convenience stores or grocery stores, many of the store owners comment that their sales actually went up after installing projects by really improving the appearance of the store, better lighting, new refrigeration equipment.

Consumers feel more safe, more comfortable, and they're store's more appealing. So their sales actually increased after installing projects. So they receive a double benefit of saving energy costs and also improving their sales. Next slide, please. And, again, a couple more examples. This is a project that's improved their heating, HVAC system, and did some insulation in the building to use less energy.

Next. And last, piece of equipment. This happened to be of a reverse osmosis system for a maple syrup producer, that by using this system, uses a significant amount of less energy in evaporating and producing maple syrup. It's a good time of the year to be giving this example. So a little bit on application and working forward.

So the program currently is operating on, basically, an annual cycle of one time of year of deadlines for applications. And the deadline for the current cycle, the last deadline is actually tomorrow, the 31st of March. However, I have these dates crossed out because tomorrow we're also publishing a additional funding opportunity and converting this program from an annual program into quarterly.

So every calendar quarter will be an opportunity to submit an application and compete for funding, and that would be for all grants within the program. So it's going to not only increase the dollar amounts available for the program but also the frequency of working through the program. So again, if you're interested in the program, I'll show you a couple of links here of how you can obtain some additional information here on the next slide, please.

I thought just a quick highlight, though, for those of you that are involved in assisting other projects, a small component of the program also funds grants to intermediaries. This slide shows the third bubble here from the left as to the eligible borrowing entities. These are actually grants, but federally recognized tribes in other government institutions along with electric utilities, cooperatives, are eligible for grants. And these grants could be used to fund energy audits.

So this would be conducting an audit for businesses and other entities, for undertaking energy efficiency projects, or providing technical assistance to an entity to undertake a renewable energy project. These grants typically are of $100,000 or less to that intermediary. Next slide, please. So I think this presentation will be made available to you. So these are actually links embedded here into this slide. The REAP program is administered through the world development state office structure.

So every state has a field office with a state energy coordinator in the link, and this slide will take you to that. If you don't have access to this slide, simply Google USDA rural development, and then under the Contact Us button, you'll have an opportunity to connect to the energy coordinators. We suggest you do that. I'll also go to the REAP program web page. And of course, that page includes a lot of the information I just highlighted here, and there's also a subscribe button at the very bottom.

If you subscribe to that page, any time we make an update, such as a new funding announcement or any revisions to the program, you'll automatically receive a notice that the updates have been made, and you'll receive that very timely working forward. We do utilize grants.gov to submit applications for the program, but those of you that maybe have limited access to grants.gov, we also are able to accept applications by mail or by email through our state office staff.

So again, the contact information for that. And I'm going to wrap up. I think the next slide simply has my contact information. So if anything else, feel free to drop me an email message. If you need contacts, need some additional assistance in connecting with our field office staff or simply questions about the program, I'm glad to connect. Thank you, and I think I'll turn it either back to Tedd or to Chris.

TEDD BUELOW: Thanks, mark. Let's go straight to Chris.

CHRISTOPHER A. MCLEAN: Wonderful, thank you, Tedd. Thank you, Mark, for that excellent presentation. Both of our agencies do renewable energy and energy efficiency, but RUS does it at utility scale. So I like to think of Mark as retail, and RUS, Rural Utilities Service, we are at wholesale. I'm going to talk to you about two programs in the Inflation Reduction Act that are under the jurisdiction of the Rural Utilities Service.

But first, we'll go next slide. I'll give you a little bit of background about my agency, the Rural Utilities Service. We're the successor agency to the Rural Electrification Administration. Here's a picture of President Franklin Roosevelt actually signing the TVA, the Tennessee Valley Act, into account, which was the inspiration for the Rural Electrification Act. For about 87 years, we've been making loans to rural utilities, serving rural areas, including many tribal communities.

And over the years, Congress has expanded our mandate to include telecommunications, and then in the mid '90s, Congress reorganized the Department of Agriculture to create a one-stop utilities shop by combining the telecom and electric programs of the rural electrification administration with water and sewer programs of the Farmers Home Administration. So that became RUS, and then right around the turn of the century, RUS got engaged deeply into broadband deployment. And we're rolling out, as we speak, numerous broadband announcements.

But the latest chapter-- next slide-- in our history is the biggest single investment in rural electrification since the rural electrification act. So when President Biden signed into law the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes some exciting provisions both under the jurisdiction of RUS but with other federal agencies to be able to support clean energy development. Next slide.

And the two provisions that we've had under our jurisdiction, we've held a number of engagements, including two open listening sessions, a formal tribal consultation, and 13 individual roundtables in the month of January, including one roundtable that focused on tribal utilities. Over 1,300 attendees for our roundtables, plus countless one-on-one conversations. And we are poised, in the next several weeks, to be able to launch a funding notice about these two provisions. Next slide, please.

So there are two major initiatives in the IRA, Inflation Reduction Act, that are focused on-- for RUS-- on renewable energy. So the first one we've called the Affordable Clean Energy Program or ACE. So we would like to give you an ace up your sleeve here to be able to deploy clean energy. What this program does, it gives us $1 billion of budget authority to make partially forgivable loans for projects that will finance wind, solar, hydropower, biomass, or geothermal sources of renewable power, including projects that store electricity in support of those technologies.

So you could have a renewable project plus storage, or a storage project that supports a renewable project. Again, it's at utility scale to distinguish our programs from the excellent programs that Mark just explained. Now, the eligibility for this funding is for projects that serve rural and non-rural residents. When we announce our funding notice, or NOFO, Notice of Funding Opportunity, we will give you a definition of what is rural and non-rural, and what the mix between rural and non-rural would need to be for this funding opportunity.

Under the statute, we can forgive up to 50% of a loan deployed for these renewable projects. You can expect that we're not going to go all the way to the 50% level. We'll probably stair step it up, but there are also provisions in the statute that allow the Secretary of Agriculture to prescribe areas that are eligible for more than 50% forgiven. So please, as tribal leaders, please be on the lookout for that funding notice because I think you might see things in there that you would like.

The interest rate that attaches to the loan that is not going to be forgivable is the interest rate that is tied to the municipal rate. That gets set by the agency every quarter. Next slide, please. This gives you a little peek on what the interest rates are today. Now, you set your interest rate when you draw funds. So the real rate that a successful applicant would pay on a municipal rate, financed renewable project will be the rates that are in effect when you draw the funds.

So that could be several years from now, but let's say you were to draw a 20-year loan-- try to draw funds on a 20-year loan today for a project that you've already had approved. So you'd look at that 2043 time frame 20 years from now, and that would have an interest rate roughly of about 3.625%. The municipal rates bounce up and down around treasury rates of interest.

So, again, if I could predict exactly where rates will be in a couple of years from now, I would be on Wall Street, not in Washington. But anyway, it's a great rate. It's a very competitive interest rate. Next slide, please. The second provision is a little bit bigger. It's $9.7 billion of budget authority for long-term resiliency, reliability, and affordability for projects that achieve the greatest reduction of greenhouse gases, defined as methane, nitrous oxide, and carbon dioxide.

And it defines for us special projects that are renewable or clean-energy projects. Now, this provision, statutorily, is written by Congress to be only available to electric cooperatives that are or have been RUS borrowers, or electric cooperatives serving predominantly rural areas, or wholly or jointly owned subsidiaries of such Cooperatives

So I know that a number of rural electric cooperatives, a large number of them, serve tribal communities. And so this is an opportunity for you to get engaged with your cooperative and encourage them, perhaps partner with them, to be able to take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity. Under the statute, the agency can make loans or modifications of loans. In other words, refinancing existing debt, or make grants and offer other financial assistance.

The grant amount is limited to no more than 25% of the total project costs. So in other words, a 25% grant would need to-- would need to be supported by a 75% either loan or self-financing measure or financing by a third party, and no single entity may receive more than 10% of the total amount available in budget authority, which remains a very large amount in $970 million. If you do the math, 10% of $9.7 billion. So it's still a very extraordinary opportunity.

Now, what can you do with these loans, loan grant combinations, or grants? Well, the statute gives us these requirements. You can purchase renewable energy. You can purchase a renewable energy system. You can purchase a zero emission system, or a carbon capture storage system, or you can deploy any of the above. So you can buy the renewable power. You can buy renewable or clean energy systems, or you could deploy new systems on your own, or you could also use the funding to support energy efficiency improvements to generation and transmission systems of eligible entities.

However, this particular provision is competitive. So the competition will be run on the basis of the achieving the greatest reduction in greenhouse gases, and so we will be providing an opportunity, a calculator, for applicants to be able to demonstrate the level of greenhouse gases. And also, we have been encouraged in-- not to give too much of a preview-- but have taken very seriously requests that we permit, consolidated applications or joint applications, so that folks could generate big numbers of greenhouse gas reductions by partnering up with similarly situated entities.

Next slide, please. Now, what it makes these provisions even more exciting for rural consumers, and particularly, rural consumers who are often in underserved areas is that the Inflation Reduction Act not only includes these provisions that I just described that are extraordinary in the context of the rural utility service. There's also renewable energy or clean energy tax incentives for developers, for consumer-based energy efficiency, for electric vehicle purchases or charging stations, and for carbon capture and utilization or storage projects.

In addition, what is really exciting for tribes, for nonprofits, for municipal utilities, and for cooperatives is that the IRA provides for a direct pay tax incentive for co-ops and others. So those entities that previously have not been able to take advantage of tax credits because they did not have taxes to pay since they were non-taxable entities. In lieu of the tax credit, the Department of Treasury will be making direct payments to the entities that qualify for these direct pay tax incentives.

The Treasury Department hasn't announced the rules yet, but the expectation is that the direct pay incentives could cover up to 30% to 50% of project costs. So we also expect those tax benefits to be fully stackable with RUS. We have no restrictions on stacking those benefits. But if you look at this, there is a tremendous opportunity to be able to deploy utility scale renewable projects that serve your communities and get 30% to 50% tax credits from the Department of Treasury and up to 50% debt forgiveness for the ACE program or up to 25% grant support for the New Era Program.

So it's a pretty extraordinary opportunity. The most exciting one that I have seen in my long career at the Rural Utilities Service. So next slide. Now, here is one key element as you are planning your approach to these programs. Under the statute, the IRA requires that funds be fully disbursed by September 30, 2031. Well, what does that mean?

That means that projects have to be selected. They have to be cleared environmental review. They have to clear a tribal or State Historic Preservation Offices. They have to be built, and they have to be operational all before the last day of the fiscal year of 2031, and in fact, considerably before that because we are not going to let all of these projects have their funds released on the last day of the fiscal year.

So we are about to announce the funding notice. Stay tuned. The President of the United States has said that it's going to come out in spring. So we are-- spring has sprung, and we are working feverishly to be able to meet the president's instruction, how we've adopted a approach of speed, simplicity, and familiarity. And so we're looking forward to release that notice.

And we hope that each and every one of you take a really hard look at it. But my one message to you today is, it's not too early to start working on the projects that you think would fit into these programs and start making your plans to explain to us the things that you would like to do. So next slide.

Yeah, it's not too soon. These are very exciting opportunities so get ready. I'll give you a little preview. We're going to have a two-step process that replicates some of what we've done in the past, what the Department of Energy has done in some of their programs where the first pre-application period, it's a low barrier of entry.

It should be something that is achievable without having to hire a huge number of consultants, and then you can see if you're in the money and be invited for a full application. We do something very similar to that in the Rural Energy Savings Program. We've been asked to think seriously about doing it in the two IRA provisions, and I think that when you read the notices, you won't be surprised that we like that procedure.

So that's the next slide, which is points of contact. Here is the RUS USDA Rural Development IRA web page. Here's also a link for you to sign up for updates for what's going on at the-- in the IRA program. So please sign up for that. And one other critical tip, which I'm sure you'll also hear from the Department of Energy, please, if you have any interest in applying for any of these programs, please make sure that you have a SAM.gov registration.

With all of the investments going out there from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act and the Inflation Reduction Act, there's a little bit of a traffic jam, it sounds like. But that's your ID number, which you need to be able to apply. So if you're even thinking about it, or if you have a Sam number, make sure it's current and so get your Sam's number in place. If you have any other questions, we also have contacts here at the Rural Utilities Service web page. And we'll go to the next slide.

Here's where you can reach me. Andy Berke is the administrator of the Rural Utilities Service, and then we have field reps in the RUS program and a link. They call them GFRs, General Field Representatives, and you can click on that link, find the general field representative for your state.

And they will be glad to visit with you about not only our IRA programs but our core programs, which makes Treasury rate of interest loans available for electric infrastructure, serving rural areas, as well as an exciting energy efficiency program, or we'll offer 0% interest to a utility who will then relend it to consumers for energy efficiency called the Rural Energy Savings Program. So here's some points of contact for anything related to the Rural Utilities Service, and so that concludes my presentation. Thank you very, very much, and I'll be happy to answer any questions you might have.

BRANDON KIGER: Thanks Chris and Mark and Tedd. We will be taking questions at the very end of the webinar, just to make a note of that. And you are able to submit your questions to-- any written questions any time through the chat box, and we will get to those questions at the very end.

Mark and Chris, if you're able to stay on, that's great. I know Tedd plans on staying on to answer any questions too. So thanks again, USDA. And next, we're going to move on to Jenny Sumner with NREL to discuss the C2C program. And I know, Jenny, you were having audio issues. Are you there now?

JENNY SUMNER: I am here now. Can you hear me OK?

BRANDON KIGER: Yes, you sound great. Thank you, you may begin. Your slides are up.

JENNY SUMNER: Great, thank you all for having me. Again, I'm Jenny Sumner. I'm with the National Renewable Energy Lab. We are a laboratory of the US Department of Energy and are leading the Clean Energy to Communities Program, C2C. So I wanted to share a little bit about how the program was developed and three of our key program offers, some of which have open application windows right now. So you can move to the next slide, please.

So Clean Energy to Communities C2C program was developed out of some work that NREL did with Los Angeles. We did a three-year project working with the municipal utility there to really answer questions around how could they get to 100% clean energy, looking at different pathways, and trying to understand some of the implications of that transition.

After we did that work, the Secretary of Energy asked us to really figure out how could we do that work for more communities and in a faster way. So we are building upon the work that was done for that LA 100 study and trying to bring that to more communities in a faster way and also layering in a component of validation of technologies. So not just doing pathway analysis and planning exercises, but also looking at some real-time operational questions through NREL's ARIES capabilities.

Next slide. C2C is designed to be a innovative cross-cutting technology program, and this is a little bit unique to some of the programs at Department of Energy or across the federal space where, often, there may be a program focused just on solar technologies or just on mobility infrastructure. With C2C, we're really focusing on how do clean power, mobility, grid, and buildings interact with each other, and what are those cross-cutting solutions that can be developed?

So this could look like a local government having a goal to transition to 100% clean energy and wanting to implications for EV charging and building efficiency policies and impacts on grids. So really, those cross-cutting solutions are a focus area for this program. We know that communities being served by this program are going to have their own perspectives coming into it, and that may be an energy justice lens, climate mitigation, or resilience lens, or jobs in the economy lens.

We are designed to support communities from whatever lens they're approaching these problems with and focus really on those local clean energy goals. Before I keep moving on, I wanted to share just a quick video that summarizes a lighter touch effort we did with the community so you can get a sense of what we've done through this program to date that's just a case example. So if someone could go ahead and transition to that video, I'll pause here.

BRANDON KIGER: And a quick note that if you are dialed in from your phone, you may not hear audio, but I am posting a link to the entire audience.

JENNY SUMNER: Yeah, we can hop back to the slide deck now and move on to slide four. I hope-- for folks who couldn't hear the video, you could check out the link but really just wanted to highlight some of the assistance that's available through this program. And in particular, the video we just watched was through our expert match program, and this program is designed to be one that is very short turnaround.

You can apply now, and it's just a short web application form. We turn around acceptance to that program pretty rapidly and then match you with a expert at a national lab or at a third party that we have on hand to talk you through questions, provide some light touch TA as you heard from co-host New York. We have two additional offers under C2C that I wanted to highlight as well.

Our cohort program is really designed to bring groups of organizations together around a particular topic, and those folks work with each other over about six months to learn about that topic from each other and from experts across the national labs. For example, one of our cohort topics looks at financing strategies for low-income households clean energy.

So it's topic areas like that where folks are coming together, learning about the topic, and developing some sort of action plan as to how they would move forward. Our third offer-- I'll highlight briefly here and then talk a little bit more in some later slides-- is our in-depth partnership offering. This is really a three-year engagement between a community team and the national laboratories.

And in our community teams, we are having folks across the local government, which could include a tribal government as well as a utility and a non-- or, sorry, and a community-based organization working with the labs over three years. Those labs provide technical assistance paired with some funding that goes directly to the community team for purchasing equipment or staffing up on their side to participate in the effort.

We can move to the next slide, please. Each of our offers have different timelines and application processes right now. Our in-depth partnerships are open right now for applications. This is a request for proposal process that's run through NREL, which I'll highlight a little bit in the next couple of slides as well.

For cohorts, we are launching new cohorts about every six months. So I would encourage folks to sign up for our email list, and we'll get information out to you when those new cohorts launch. We're just launching a new round today actually of three cohorts moving forward. And then expert match, as I mentioned, was a rolling application. So it's online, and when I'm done presenting, I'll post some of these links in the chat as well.

But that is a short web form designed to be really, really light lift to help communities, utilities, non-governmental organizations get answers to their questions pretty quickly. So we can move on to the next slide, please. Great, I wanted to spend just a little bit more time talking about our in-depth partnerships as these are one of the key offerings under C2C.

So right now, we have three open RFPs that provide a combination of direct funding to the community team paired with targeted technical assistance from the National Laboratories. DOE's National Laboratories will provide no cost assistance in support of the community team's goals, and we'll ask in the application for the community team to identify what those goals are.

Next slide, please. Here are some additional details about these opportunities. So the one in green, the C2C in-depth partnership model, provides up to $500,000 in subcontract funding. That's the funding that goes to the community team, which could include a tribal organization. That's paired with up to $3.5 million in no-cost technical assistance.

In terms of what the community team could do with their subcontract funding under this structure, really to support staff time, hiring additional staff, and we are looking to the community teams to really lead community engagement activities so making sure that an organization is understanding the needs of the community and relaying those back to the lab team.

All community types are eligible for this C2C in-depth partnership offer. We do require that the community team consists of a local government, community-based organization, and their electric utility. There are a few differences between what's in dark green here and what's in blue. So in blue, we have two energy shed opportunities. One focused on rural communities, and the other focused on Metropolitan communities.

The main difference between these blue energy shed offers and the green C2C offer is the amount of subcontract funding and amount of technical assistance provided. So under the energy shed rural and metro offers, there is $3 million in subcontract funding. We anticipate that subcontract funding would go to similar activities to C2C. So that staff time and participation, community engagement.

But we also expect that under the energy shed offers, some of that subcontract funding would be used to purchase equipment to move the community teams goals forward. So this could be infrastructure or technology investments. The other piece is that the technical assistance under energy shed is up to $1.5 million, so smaller than what we have for the C2C in-depth partnership offer.

I'll go ahead and move to the next slide. I wanted to give folks just a few slides of context around what is the type of work that could be done under these in-depth partnerships. So one of the capabilities that we have developed through ERE funding from the Department of Energy is really the ability to create this virtual green community layer that's a virtual representation of the communities buildings, mobility infrastructure, transmission and distribution infrastructure that allows us to then go in and use that as a sandbox, so testing out different wind turbines, testing out different solar panels.

Things like heat pumps, water heaters, and charging stations, and really, basically, simulate or emulate what impacts those different technologies would have on the community in a virtual way, instead of going out and doing actual installations in the community, or just doing it all in a more simplified modeling exercise. So we're really excited to bring some of this virtual representation of communities to allow communities to validate their designs for their clean-energy transition, make sure that they're really comfortable with how we could de-risk those project designs before they move forward with procurement.

Next slide. So we heard a short video about COHOS New York and the work that NREL did with them as a pilot project under C2C. I wanted to provide just one other example of work that looks a little bit closer to our in-depth partnership program offering, which is work in Fairbanks, Alaska. So we've piloted some work there that really looks at a question they had, which is that they are retiring a coal plant that's 50 megawatts and are replacing it with wind and storage.

Some of their concerns were around meeting summer loads and winter loads, moving towards inverter-based resources on their grids, and reliance on the Alaska intertie, which is maybe a little bit hard to see on this map. But, basically, the transmission that connects the utility in the orange color there, GVEA, to what's down south there.

We have technical leads on the NREL side that were assigned to work on this project, and we can move on to the next slide. I'll talk a little bit more about the work that we were able to do for Fairbanks. So the three important pieces here are that we were able to cover production cost modeling, so understanding the size of the battery and wind and how it will affect the utility system.

Then, we were able to move on to grid stability analysis. So looking at questions of, where do you put the battery? How will grid stability change in this configuration, and how will that look under summer and winter demand scenarios and in scenarios where we have-- the utility has unplanned outages. And we focused on those two pieces, but the third piece that could be a third step is really looking at controller validation, using that virtual environment at NREL through the ARIES capabilities.

So that third piece looking at controller validation could look at things like, basically, how does the controller work with the utility's existing system and assets? So that's all I have for today. I wanted to just share a little bit about our current opportunities and the types of work that can be done under these three different program designs, and the type of work that we're excited to partner with folks across the country on. Thanks very much.

BRANDON KIGER: Thanks, Jenny. And, again, just a reminder, you can submit a question at any time through the chat box, and we'll get to those questions at the very end. And next, we will hear from Michael Kuca and Brian O'Donnchadha with the Energizing Rural Communities Prize. Y'all may proceed once your slides are up.

BRIAN O'DONNCHADHA: Thank you. Hello, everybody, my name is Brian O'Donnchadha, and I am the tribal liaison for the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations. The office was set up in 2021 by the bipartisan infrastructure law, and today, I'm going to give you a very quick overview of the office itself and our various functions before handing over to my colleague, Michael Kuca, who will get down to the nuts and bolts and talk about some pretty exciting opportunities that are open at the moment.

So without any further ado, next slide, please. The Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, or OCED, established in 2021, was set up with the clear mandate to deliver clean energy demonstration projects at scale in partnership with the private sector to accelerate the deployment, market adoption, and the equitable transition to a decarbonized energy system.

What that means, in essence, is traditionally in this country, we have a very strong history of developing technologies and scientists in the lab. We have a very strong private sector that takes these-- when they're market ready, takes these science these sciences and applies them at scale. But we have this gap in the middle, in between where the sciences are created and finalized as much as they can be in the lab to the point where they're ready to be deployed at market scale.

That gap in the middle is the demonstration phase, and that's where we see a very-- that's where a lot of industry or a lot of new sciences fail, where they don't attract sufficient investment or interest to make it to the market stage. So that is the gap that OCED has been tasked to fill, to bridge that gap to help these new scientists get to the market, attract private sector investment, and OCED was established to de-risk that somewhat by partnering and cost sharing on this.

OCED itself is made up of a number of different provisions. For example, we have the advanced reactor demonstration projects, carbon capture projects, clean energy demonstrations on current and former land mined land, energy improvements in rural and remote areas, industrial demonstration projects, long duration energy storage, clean hydrogen hubs, and so on.

Today, we're going to be focusing-- next slide, please-- on the energy improvements in rural and remote areas, which we've abbreviated to ERA. So the rural and remote provision is the provision that, in many ways, is most exciting. All the other provisions are very, very focused on the sciences and the technologies, whereas the rural and remote provision, in addition to the sciences and technologies, is also open to funding other aspects of bringing energy to the rural remote areas.

For example, project management, trying to find different ways to partner on finance, and other areas like that. So it's much more broad provision than the other provisions. It's much more flexible, and we believe we'll have a lot of applications across rural and remote America, and of course, with many of the tribes. And that's what we're here to talk today. We focus on ERA once my colleague Michael Kuca comes on. Next slide, please.

So very quickly, the Justice40 Initiative, why the White House executive order 14008 directs the 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments and programs will flow to disadvantaged communities. All of the programs and provisions covered by OCED fall under this executive order, under Justice 40. And in addition to that, OCED, by hiring me as a tribal liaison, is ensuring and is dedicated to committing to Department of Energy's order 144.1, which commits the Department to tribal consultation and including tribal concerns and input into all our decision making and our programs.

So OCED is committed to ensuring that we work as much as possible with our tribal partners across the country, and hopefully, we'll be able to cite many of our funded projects with our tribal partners across the United States. Next slide, please. And so at this point, I'm going to hand over to my friend, Michael Kuca, who will speak to several funding opportunities that are currently available under OCED. Michael, take it away.

MICHAEL KUCA: Great, thank you, Brian, and good day, everybody. Good morning or good afternoon, depending on where you are. I hope you're all doing well and thanks for joining us today. We are excited to speak about some of the funding opportunities for the energy improvements in rural remote areas. As Brian said, my name is Michael. I'm an engineer with the Office, and we're just going to jump in a few things here.

On the left side of the slide, you see that there's a $15 million opportunity. It's open and available. It's called the Energizing Rural Community Prize, and mostly, the slides that we're going to talk about today, we're going to highlight that prize, highlight the activities, and partner in finance and some opportunities for people across the nation. All of Indian country is welcome to explore and check out that prize, and we'll look at that a little bit more deeply.

And then also, we have an open funding opportunity announcement, which is the same title as our program called Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas. And we just had a FOA webinar on that yesterday, and we're providing the slides, and in the slide, there's a link to OCED Exchange. And as soon as-- a few days, possibly maybe less, we'll post the entire video on the FOA webinar, and that location of that link also provides you the full FOA text, the questions and answer documents that you'll see, and forms that you'll need to consider that.

One of our colleagues earlier-- I think it was Chris from the Department of Agriculture-- did just throw out a heads up on Sam, and I just want to second that. If you haven't been on Sam lately, if you haven't updated your account and checked your registration, and you're thinking about putting in for some funding announcements this year, then please go ahead and get on there and double check everything and make sure your account is ready to go and active for all these opportunities that we're talking about today.

So without further ado, we'll get into a little bit more on the prize. If we go to the next slide, we should be on slide six and Energizing Rural Community Prize. So this is a $15 million prize. It's separate than the typical funding opportunity announcement. It's largely managed by our great partners at NREL, and on this prize, this particular one, we're going to be looking at developing partnership plans and innovative financing strategies to help rural and remote communities improve their energy systems and advance clean energy demonstration projects.

Now, it's important to understand that rural and remote was very prescribed to us by Congress and what that means for this particular DOE program. And exactly what they said is in bold there, the rural remote area is defined by a city, town, or unincorporated area that has the population of not more than 10,000 inhabitants, and there's not a lot to expound on that.

What's pretty straightforward is that the area of benefit, wherever the project may be, whatever the benefit is doing, it must provide benefits to a city, town, or unincorporated areas of less than 10,000. We have a lot of information on that, both on the prize web page and the FOA web page. Lots of questions have come in about that, and we welcome you to look at the question and answer documents on those things.

We'll go to the next slide and potential competitors. By and large, we're a very open and available program across the nation. We welcome all non-federal government entities, all of Indian country, and then community-based organizations, community-based funding organizations. We are welcome to both nonprofit and for profit, although if there's a specific for profit thing to consider, then we can discuss those as far as proprietary information or others, what can and can't be included in application material.

And then also academic institutions and individuals such as entrepreneurs or technology developers that are partnering with communities. Now, it's a pretty wide and open opportunity for the competitors, but we remind you that the benefit must go to rural or remote areas as defined by this provision as a communities of 10,000 or less.

So a lot of people will ask us, is this eligible, is that eligible, is this eligible. And by and large, the applicant eligibility is not as proscribed as other funding opportunity announcements, but the benefit eligibility is solely focused on communities 10,000 or less. And we'll go one more slide to the prize timeline. The prize was released in March.

We have a page called the HeroX page, and there's some links here in a moment on this document. And again, when it's posted, you'll be able to grab any of those links and click from the PDF. And our phase one will close in May 24th, so a little less than a month. We do have an opportunity for technical assistance and office hours. We do have opportunities to tie-in with a teaming list and other partners.

We have opportunities to amplify your plan and to find other groups that are working together on some similar tracks. And then also, next week, we're having an additional webinar on each track, and that will be Wednesday and Thursday of next week. And we'll have those dates in a moment, but be aware that, again, the links to the web pages that will be available to you on this slide show will take you to those locations.

Prior webinars that we've had that discussed the rules document and the prize administration as a whole are available online at the HeroX as well, and you're welcome to take a look at those videos, and we welcome that. In July, we'll be announcing winners for the first phase, and those are awards up to $100,000. We expect a lot of competitors, and we have the ability to provide a lot of prizes.

So we're really excited about what our rural communities and partners across the nation and Indian country that what they want to bring to us is ideas, and what these ideas are, are concepts that will make you more competitive, more available, more ready for projects execution. So you may be looking at different partnerships in different communities, and actually, let me just not get ahead of myself because we'll go into that in a moment.

And then phase two, it will begin after the awards are notified in July of this year. And then phase two will run for a year, and then competitors that are successful in phase two will be awarded up to $200,000. So all in all, a little over a year program with an opportunity to be awarded $300,000 for your concepts and ideas and ways to implement new ideas and strengthen your project readiness, whether it be your project readiness team through training, finance, or project management.

We'll just go to the next slide. We'll look a little bit more detail at the partner track and the finance track. And if you see on the left there, we're really encouraging ideas that form partnerships that advance development of clean energy projects in rural remote areas. And that's a wide open statement, and it's intended to be because some of our greatest ideas, they don't come from our offices. They come from you, the communities, all across the country, and we're really excited about what we're going to hear from our rural partners.

And some of the guidelines that we're giving is that we should be facilitating new or existing partnerships. So it doesn't have to be brand new. It can be said partnership that you've already started that you want to build upon, and the goals is that you're going to be developing clean energy projects in rural communities. Successful competitors will create and demonstrate connections that lead to these collaborative efforts.

You may be building project management teams. You may be working on your engineering services to ensure that you can advance your engineering design to be more competitive for other funding announcements. You may be just simply working to advance your project concepts. Many of the FOAs require the applicants to have options analysis and review different technologies and get base load metrics to ensure that you can compare those base load metrics to what you're claiming, whether it be through resiliency or energy savings or fuel savings.

And often, it's the challenge for communities to get those baseload metrics or to build those early stages engineering, and this is an opportunity that we want to award communities that have those goals and those opportunities to get a little bit of funding, a little bit of seed funding, to really create a more competitive environment for our rural partners.

And if you look to the right, with a $10 million cash pool total, and then phase one, which is in July when we announce the winners there. We're going to have up to 60 cash prizes of $100,000 each, and then those competitors that are successful there will be invited into phase two, which I said earlier on the last slide, was one year, and there will be up to 20 awards of $200,000 each.

So they're not huge stellar values, but they're really significant in the ability to jump start your energy plans, your energy visions, and your energy strategies and jumpstart them into becoming a really solid project concept and becoming really competitive for funding, whether it be government funding or private funding. And we'll go to the next slide, 10, which is the finance track.

And again, this is a concept that we want to hear and embolden ideas that improve access and capital for clean projects in rural areas of the United States. Some of that can mean connecting communities to capital for future projects. We may be talking with communities about supporting innovative business models. There may be new approaches to financing clean energy projects that we haven't really explored or had the time-- the communities may not have had the time, or money, or effort to reach into those ideas.

Other business models that are existing that haven't really maybe taken off yet that maybe need a 2 and a 3 and a 4 to get some repetition to show those business models are effective. And that may attract more traditional financing, so to speak, if you give more examples. And other innovative ways, we want to see ways that our communities can leverage the fiscal incentives such as tax credits. We want to see ways that or rural partners can leverage attracting banks, more traditional financing, but also some green financing, and angel investors, and other corporate investors that want to ensure that their portfolio has some green energy.

And we want to find ways to make those connections. And what we'll do with this FINANCE Track is the communities that propose new and successful ideas in how to build some different access to rural projects, we'll be rewarding you $100,000 for your concept and for the implementation of your plan in July. And again, if you're successful, you'll be invited into phase 2, which will last for another year. And if you're able to mature that idea further, then there's an opportunity for a $200,000 prize.

Again, we'll take any questions on this and we're happy to chat more detail. We'll go to the next slide, which is next steps. And really, where we are right now is in the recruit, and register, and read phase. So if you're interested in this, we'll be bringing you to the HeroX, which the links will be shortly. And you can recruit your team members, register yourself on HeroX, understand the rules document.

As I said, we've already had a rules webinar, which is available for you to review, slides and video. And then we have two webinars next week, which you're welcome to register for. And they'll be specific to each track. So if you already decide that you want to be in the PARTNER Track, then that's on Wednesday. And if you wanted to be in the FINANCE Track, that's on Thursday. And if you're not sure, then we invite you to go to both of them, and listen to our great subject matter experts, and offer some concepts and ideas.

Again, you'll be connecting with your partners and then designing and submission in just under two months. The next slide is upcoming webinars, which I've already alluded to. So I'm not going to spend too much time on this. The links will be there. You can click on it on the PDF.

And on the right side, we have some technical assistance. We're calling it office hours. You're able to connect with our great peers at NREL, talk about your concepts, maybe just understand how the mechanisms of the prize is working. It's not a traditional FOA. It's not going to require a significant and massive application. Some of it's video. Some of it's concept writing. And it's very short in comparison to the traditional application efforts.

And then again, we have some networking events that will connect you to other partners and other prize amplifiers. That will all be available when this is posted on the IE website. And the next slide is register and compete.

Again, this is just a bit of the timeline. You see there on the top left is your HeroX website. If you want to jot that down, it's www.herox.com. And there's a backslash, rural-energy, as you see there. If you can just go-- if you want, just to herox.com. And you can search for the rural energy prize.

All right, and that brings us to the end of this presentation on the prize. You see that is our emblem there on the next-- on that picture slide, slide 14. And the email for the rural energy prize, if there's any questions for helpdesk or anything else that you may have is there. It's ruralenergyprize@nrel.gov. And again, the herox.com website.

I'll close with just two final slides, briefly. We'll go to the next slide, 15. As I said, we're primarily-- we just wanted to introduce the prize and discuss some opportunities there. But we do have the open $300 million FOA. It is two topic areas, largely delineated by dollars. So the first topic area is community scale demonstrations. And that's $5 million to $10 million projects, and large scale demonstrations at $10 million to $100 million projects.

It is up to $300 to be awarded. And again, as it is a FOA, it's really great for you to go to that OCED eXCHANGE, the link is down below on that slide. We offer you the FOA webinar, which will be the recorded will be posted shortly. We just did that yesterday. And the rules document, FOA, supporting documentation, help with OCED eXCHANGE and all of the above are there.

And if you have any questions at all, feel free to email us at the email on that OCED eXCHANGE. And we'll be happy to do that. We also have our question and answer log there, which is very valuable to applicants, very valuable to us as well. And then the final slide just gives a couple of dates.

As I said, the FOA informational webinar will be posted on OCED eXCHANGE. We have concept papers that are due on April 14. And the full applications are due on June 28. We welcome you to go to OCED eXCHANGE, open that information up, and any questions at all, please submit to us.

If you have additional questions on concept papers and how to submit them or would like some general office hours, we do have a technical assistance link on OCED eXCHANGE as well. That will connect you to our partners at NREL. And we have some office hours available to you there. You must register for anything from NREL in this particular FOA sense by next Friday the 7th.

But again, go to eXCHANGE, ask us any questions you have. We're available and excited to hear from you. And at this time, I'm going to go ahead and pass it off to our next speaker, or back to Brandon. Thank you everybody, look forward to any questions.

BRANDON KIGER: Great, Michael and Brian. Thank you. Next, we will move on to our final presenter, Adam Hasz, who is with the Office of State and Community Energy Programs at DOE. And he will be discussing the Tribal Home Energy Rebate Program. Adam, are you-- I know you had to log in late. Are you-- can you hear me?

ADAM HASZ: Yes.

BRANDON KIGER: OK, we can hear you.

ADAM HASZ: And hi, everybody, great.

BRANDON KIGER: Your slides are up. And you can go ahead and start.

ADAM HASZ: Perfect, hi, everybody. Thanks for having me. And thanks to all the other panelists. I learned a lot about the other federal programs that are out there that can provide a lot of benefits to tribes today.

I'm going to be talking about a new program from Department of Energy called the Tribal Home Energy Rebates. And this is a program that should be available to any tribe that wishes to participate and is specifically oriented towards upgrading tribal housing. I'll get into a lot more details as we go. Brandon, next slide.

So first, I'm going to give you a quick introduction to my new office, the DOE Office of State and Community Energy Programs, provide an overview of the Tribal Home Energy Rebates, and then share some resources and hopefully have time for some audience questions at the end. Next slide.

So the State and Community Energy Programs Office is the office at DOE that provides grants directly to states, local governments, and sometimes to tribes. Unlike some of the other programs that you heard about today, most of those grants are formula. And so there's an allocation for every state, local government, or tribe that wants to participate.

The $16 billion in programs covers a lot of different programs. I'll cover what exactly is under that umbrella on the next slide. But for now, I wanted to highlight that we are working to deploy clean energy technologies, deliver on Justice40 priorities that were alluded to in earlier presentations, to catalyze local economic development, create good jobs, do place-based pollution reduction, and help American households to reduce their energy costs.

We're also working really closely with our sister offices of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs, as well as the Office of Energy to ensure that tribes are consulted and supported in accessing these programs. We actually had our tribal consultation on this exact program yesterday. We had about 40 different tribes represented with tribal executive leaders and several other tribes, tribal staff, or folks who work with tribes directly on their housing.

So we got a lot of great feedback. And we're planning to continue to do further engagement with tribal designated housing entities, regional tribal organizations, and other tribal stakeholders to make sure that as we develop this program, we are meeting the needs of Indian tribes and Alaska Native entities that wish to implement the program. Next slide.

In addition to the home energy rebates, which is mostly what I'm talking about today, SCEP has a variety of other programs, ranging from Weatherization Assistance Program, which can provide home upgrades to low income households, to funding for energy efficiency improvements in schools, state revolving loan fund program, flexible funding that's granted to states, local governments, and Indian tribes for EECBG, Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, $1 billion for codes and upgrading building codes, and then a few other programs that focus on workforce and larger energy development at the local level. Next slide.

So the program that I'm talking about today is specifically for the Tribal Home Energy Rebate Programs. The overall home energy rebate is $8.8 billion. Out of that amount, $225 million is specifically reserved for Indian tribes. And that definition within the law includes Alaska Native corporations or Alaska Native entities as an Indian tribe. And so those entities are also eligible.

The goal of the program is to develop, implement, and subsidize home upgrades that include energy efficiency and electrification. And the money that will go to a tribe that wishes to participate can be used to provide the rebates to determine the eligibility of households, which we'll get into in a bit, work with contractors, verify that installation is up to par and is good quality, and potentially help tribal households bundle the funding with additional financing or additional other funds to make sure that they cover everything they need to upgrade their home.

The funding is not yet available. Again, we are consulting with tribal leaders, including a formal consultation process to develop the program guidance for the funding. Next slide.

The four objectives that we have for the program are to help reduce energy bills for tribal households, to make it easier to access home energy improvements by decreasing the cost through these rebates. They will be delivered through what is called point of sale rebates, which means that rather than having to pay upfront and get a refund later, you will get an instantaneous discount we want to attract, train, and retain a qualified workforce, particularly from tribes.

And so if there can be a workforce development effort that works with tribal governments and other tribal stakeholders, then there can be greater economic development opportunities in addition to the energy savings that is provided by the upgrades. And we want to be able to spur durable demand for these types of upgrades. After the rebates are done, we want to make sure that there's a pathway where Indian tribes can continue to provide upgrades to their citizens. Next slide.

So this slide has a lot of details on the actual law. So these are the specific things that we have to follow as we're designing the program guidelines. And the law is section 50122 in the Inflation Reduction Act. There's a link there. If you go to the link that Brandon posted on the chat, you can see these slides. You can also go to a framing paper that talks about a lot of the details that I'm covering here.

So I encourage you to do that if you are interested in learning more of the details of the program. But the $225 million is reserved through 2031. The way the money will flow is we will award grants to Indian tribes to develop a rebate program. And then the tribes will actually be the ones that are giving out the rebates.

Again, an Indian tribe includes Alaska Native entities, the Alaska Native corporations that are under the Alaska Native Claim Settlement Act. The funding for Indian tribes will be reserved in a manner determined by the Secretary. So one of the big questions that we are asking through our conservation is what's the best way to do that.

We are planning to create a formula where any tribe who wishes to participate can apply. What we're trying to figure out is what's the most equitable way to do that. Should we do it based on population? Should we do it based on poverty and economic need? Should we consider energy burden? Should we consider construction costs?

We've heard a lot of different feedback already. We would appreciate your feedback as well on what you think are the most important variables in setting that formula. Once we've set that formula and release the application, tribes will have to apply. We will then approve that application. And then the money will be granted to the tribes.

We've not finished setting up the application. That's one of the things that we're working on now or will be really working on after we finish the consultation at the end of April. And then finally an important note for the funding that will be granted, only 20% of that funding can be used for program administration. And the other 80% must be used to provide direct rebates. Next slide.

The rebates can be used for seven specific items. These are all noted within section 50122 of the law. Those items include an electric heat pump HVAC system, so basically an air conditioner that can also run in reverse to provide heating. An electric heat pump water heater, electric stove, cooktop, range, or oven, electric heat pump clothes dryer, electric circuit breaker upgrade, insulation air sealing and ventilation upgrades, and electric wiring upgrades.

There are maximum amounts for each of those measures per household. You can see those in the column on the chart. And then each household can use up to $14,000 total across those seven different categories. The other thing for these rebates is they are only for low to moderate income households. The statute defines this as low income households meaning less than 80% area median income and moderate income households, as 80% to 150% median income.

For a low income household, you can cover up to the full cost of a home upgrade project. For a moderate income household, the rebate can cover up to half of the project costs. For both types of households, low income and moderate income, the maximum that can be spent on a rebate is $14,000. The other note is that all of the equipment and sometimes the other measures as well, if they have an Energy Star certification, they have to be Energy Star certified.

And so you have to make sure that you are purchasing and using efficient equipment when a rebate is utilized. Next up, the minimum grant application requirements that are spelled out within the law are displayed here. There has to be a plan to verify the income eligibility of the entities receiving a rebate. So in this case, this would be a tribal household. It's a tribal housing organization that is using the rebate on behalf of a low income household or moderate income household.

There has to be a plan to allow rebates at the point of sale. So again, that means an instantaneous discount, rather than a follow up rebate later. And finally, there has to be a plan to ensure that an eligible entity does not receive two rebates for the same project. That means that you can't use a rebate plus any other federal grant for the same measure that's in your qualified electrification project.

You can't use part of funding from HUD and part of funding from the rebate for the same heat pump, as an example. You can potentially use it for different items in the house. But they have to be a different package. So you could potentially use a different funding source for repairing the roof or upgrading the windows while doing the installation of the electrification equipment.

But again, they have to be very separate. And we will be providing guidance soon on how to do that. And then finally, there's a specification that allows for the Secretary to ask for additional info where you're still evaluating what that additional info might be. Next slide.

We're also developing tools that will help make it easier for tribes or third parties that work with tribes to administer the rebates. We're specifically looking at tools to help with the income verification to allow for pre-qualification or instant qualification for households. There's a lot of database management that will be needed for the tracking of rebates. We're working hard to figure out a way to help build those systems to provide them to states and tribes that want to administer rebates.

And then we're looking at other ways for tribes that don't have smartphones or don't have internet access to still make it easy to administer the rebates. For example, that can be a phone hotline, prequalified mailers, utility bill insurance, we're open to many other ideas as well. But we're trying to figure out how to make it as easy as possible. Next slide.

This is the overall timeline as of today for the Tribal Home Energy Rebate. Again, our consultation session was yesterday. We got a lot of great feedback from there. Until the end of April, we are accepting written responses for the tribal consultation process on this program. So if you'd like to give us feedback, you can email us at tribalconsultation@hq.doe.gov and include the email ourhomerebates@hq.doe.gov.

We are anticipating, in late spring or early summer, to issue the actual allocations and the formula and then the guidance for tribes that want to apply for early program administration funds. In late summer, we expect to issue the full program guidance and the application process for tribes to apply. And then the deadline in the law is August 2024 for tribes to apply. We may push that back.

But that's the earliest deadline that's in the law in terms of the application process. And so that will give us about a year after releasing the program guidance to be able to do a lot of outreach and encouragement to tribes to help them apply. Next slide.

But this slide is-- appropriate with all of the other programs we talked about today, some of them are included here, we just wanted to highlight there's many other programs that also could provide funding for upgrading tribal housing, in particular, from the home energy rebates that will be administered by State, there's going to be $6.6 billion in addition to the $225 million for tribes that is available.

And tribal households will be eligible to access those rebates, too. So we're trying to make sure that they are as equitable as possible and the tribal households have access to them. And then there's also the BIA Tribal Electrification Program which has a lot of the same goals, a different structure than that in the DOE program. And so we're talking with BIA. We're talking with other agencies, including HUD, on how we can best collaborate with the funding the DOE has to be able to make sure that this program benefits tribes and can integrate with other funding sources to the tribes as best as possible. Next slide.

Some helpful resources. The link that was posted, again, by Brandon in the chat there, that's the first one that has these slides as well as a framing paper that provides a lot more details on the program. So I encourage you to go there if you want to learn a lot more details.

Overall, for the home energy rebates, that's the website there. I encourage you to check that out if you're interested in the broader questions around the rebates, particularly for the funding is going to the states or territories. Our team email addresses is there. And then my email is here, adam.hasz@hq.doe.gov. Next slide.

And then I know we've only got a few minutes. But happy to answer questions. Looks like there's one that already came in. So Brandon, I'm not sure how you want me to answer questions or if you want to read them off but happy to take a few in the few minutes we have left.

BRANDON KIGER: Yeah, we don't have too much time. But I think the best approach is we will-- I'll pose a question. We've got a lot. To each of the panelists. And we'll just make it through one round. And then if you have additional questions, I know Joe's about to put up a slide of-- can you put up the next slide Joe with follow-up emails? Just in case people want to ask additional questions about programs.

But we will do our best to get to these questions. And you can always email us at indianenergy@hq.doe.gov. And we will do our best to get to your-- to provide a good answer. So I just want to start off with USDA. A question came in, I think Ted, you're still available, and Mark. There was a question that came in is the 30% to 50% repayment in lieu of tax credit only available for utility service level projects?

MARK BRODZISKI: Yeah, this is Mark. I can address that. So the REAP Program, Raw Energy for America Program could be for small projects, individual business egg producer, and of course, tribal enterprise level. We do not-- the REAP Program does not assist-- well, it could assist utility. Most are at the business level. So the grant percentage does apply really to both or either, not limited to utility scale.

BRANDON KIGER: Great, thank you.

And Jenny, on the C2C Program, there was a question on how you would define a community-based organization.

JENNY SUMNER: Yeah, we don't have a formal definition for community-based organization. But what we ask is that the organization tell us how they're connected to the community and how they serve community needs. So there's a variety of ways that this could be demonstrated, whether it's a board that's comprised of community members. It could be that the organization has a significant local presence and works on local issues that are determined by local residents, or other local organizations, or other things like that. So yeah, really asking for folks to just tell us how they feel like they are serving the community.

BRANDON KIGER: Great, let's see here, Adam. There was a question that came in for the Tribal Home Energy Rebate Program, could this program, for example, be used to create a program for homeowners to buy and install solar on their homes?

ADAM HASZ: Yeah, that's a great question. The short answer is probably not. The statute is pretty clear that it can only be used for those seven items I displayed. We are still working through our legal department to figure out how wide or narrow the definitions can be.

I will note that there are a lot of other incentives for solar, particularly with tax credits. And some of those tax credits have direct pay, which means they essentially would be grants or rebates. And tribes can take advantage of those. And so I will try to send some info on those solar incentives. So even though these rebates are probably not the best source for solar funding, there are other federal resources that can be used by tribal households or by Indian tribes directly to buy and install solar.

BRANDON KIGER: Great, thank you. And for the rule of cash prize, Brian and Mike, we had a question come in. Can you apply for the cash prize and apply for another DOE funding for that technology you will be entering into the prize opportunity? Does that make sense? Kind of-- Go ahead.

MICHAEL KUCA: Yeah, so this is Mike. We'd have to have a little more on that question to understand. There's not a simple yes or no to that question. But let me just say that you are not excluded from applying to the prize if you're applying to another program. So there's no-- there's no exclusion or eligibility criteria that requires you to not be doing a DOE program.

With that being said, send us your ideas. And we do have a helpdesk at the HeroX web page. And if your answers aren't taken care of there, then please send us an email. And we'll be happy to provide you more detail.

BRANDON KIGER: Great, great. And there was a clarification on your slides, slide 9 and 10, it says-- and this is for Mike and Brian. It says selected based on project implementation. Is that the progress to date or potential implementation in the future?

MICHAEL KUCA: I'm trying-- could you restate that?

BRANDON KIGER: Yeah, so on slide 9 and 10, it discusses selecting based on project implementation. And then they are curious to understand is that progress to date specifically? Or is it potential implementation in the future?

MICHAEL KUCA: Let's just say it could be either, for sure if you are already doing progress. I think conceptually, it's more thinking about future, like organizing programs, partnerships, and financing strategies to become more competitive and more successful with future projects. But there's nothing that excludes you if you are already doing that and you need to make progress in one avenue or another of the project management cycle. Then we would welcome you for that as well.

BRANDON KIGER: Great. And we get this question a lot in our mailbox. And just out of all the panelists today, which funding source might best access funds for residential clean energy on tribal lands? I know that's kind of a toss up. But in my opinion, the Home Energy Rebate Programs that are going to come out, that's a big deal. I mean, all these programs are amazing.

But in many ways, some of them compliment each other. But does anyone have any opinion on that?

ADAM HASZ: Yeah, this is Adam. I do think the home energy rebates are specifically for residential. So that's definitely a great source. And then none of us talked about this. But again, the solar investment tax credit can also be used for residential homes. And so my hope is that homes that receive upgrades for the appliances in the home or for energy efficiency improvements can also be able to utilize the solar tax credits or other incentives as well. So that's my first answer.

BRANDON KIGER: Any other responses to that? I guess USDA, are there good programs out there-- we also get this question a lot, for individual tribal members. I don't know if you have any programs that are along those lines.

MICHAEL KUCA: Yeah, the program that Mark mentioned, the REAP program, you can be an individual business owner as well as an individual ag producer. So tribal members can definitely access REAP. And we have other programs outside of our Inflation Reduction Act programs where we help individual tribal members. So happy to answer those questions in follow up as well.

BRANDON KIGER: Great, thanks. Well, out of respect of the panelists' time and the audience, we are over our time today. Again, we will try to follow up with all these questions that we did receive and direct them to the appropriate panelists through follow-up emails. Also you can also email us your questions indianenergy@hq.doe.gov.

With that, let's go ahead and begin concluding today's webinar. I stated earlier, this year's webinar series is focused on bringing you information on funding, technical assistance, incentives, and resources that aid you in developing your energy projects. Please stay tuned for future announcements on webinars through the Office of Indian Energy website and our email newsletter and social media.

This concludes our webinar for today. Thank you again for your interest and attendance. We look forward to joining us for future webinars. Have a great day.

Learn about funding for tribal communities, including Tribal Home Energy Rebates, Clean Energy to Communities, prizes for energizing rural communities, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and Rural Utilities Service grants and loans for renewable energy and infrastructure.