This February, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) is launching the $15 million Energizing Rural Communities Prize to challenge individuals and organizations to develop partnership plans and innovative financing strategies to help rural or remote communities improve their energy systems and make progress on advancing clean energy demonstration projects.
This prize is part of OCED’s $1 billion Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program, which was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to demonstrate new ways to improve the resilience, reliability, safety, availability, and environmental performance of energy systems serving our nation’s rural or remote areas with populations of no more than 10,000 people. The ERA program reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to ensuring no communities are left behind in the historic transition to a clean energy future.
Nearly 50 million Americans live in rural or remote areas where energy costs are often disproportionately high and service can be unreliable. The ERA program found that two of the primary barriers to improving rural or remote energy systems are the limited access to partners and to funding.
The Energizing Rural Communities Prize has two tracks:
- Partner Track—with a $10 million cash prize pool—will support plans to connect rural or remote communities to government funding, technical assistance, or a network of partners that can help implement clean energy demonstration projects.
- Finance Track—with a $5 million cash prize pool—will support plans to access capital or to develop community ownership models to help finance clean energy demonstration projects in rural or remote areas.
Applications to the Partner and Finance Tracks are welcome from entrepreneurs, university faculty and student groups, community organizations, tribal and local governments, financial institutions, industry professionals, and others.