Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas Selection Snapshot

Project Selections

Project Name: Advancing Energy Sovereignty for Taos Pueblo

Location: Taos Pueblo, New Mexico 

Federal Cost Share: $10,000,000

Selectee: International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology (ICAST)

Technology: Solar + Battery Storage System

Solar and Battery Storage

Project Impacts

  • Tribally owned project that will pass benefits directly to tribal members and diversify economy beyond tourism
  • Lower energy costs and enhance energy resilience during brownouts for Taos Pueblo Tribal members
  • Leverage local resources to provide apprenticeship opportunities and train local workforce

Project Summary

This project seeks to install a 5 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) and 10 MWh battery storage system located on Taos Pueblo lands in New Mexico. The project strives to eliminate an estimated 279,210 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year over its 25-year lifespan and facilitate a 33% reduction in energy costs for 2,500 rural, Taos Pueblo Tribal members. Taos Pueblo, as owners of the project assets, will receive income over the project’s generating life, which it anticipates passing on to Pueblo citizens through a direct credit of approximately $700 per household annually. Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated as both a World Heritage Site and a National Historical Place, and the Tribe ranks in the 94th percentile of energy-burdened communities, with 42% of households living below the state poverty line. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, this project plans to partner with Santa Fe Community College to aid in local workforce training, as well as provide apprenticeship opportunities for Taos Pueblo community members. Additionally, the project’s lead applicant, International Center for Appropriate and Sustainable Technology, and the City of Taos have solidified their partnership through a Good Neighbor Agreement, outlining measures to address potential impacts on the city and its residents through active engagement with city officials and community leaders. 

For more information, email West_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Alaskan Tribal Energy Sovereignty

Location: Nulato, Huslia, Minto, Kaltag, Grayling, Anvik, Shageluk, Holy Cross, Alaska

Federal Cost Share: $26,070,000 

Selectee: Tanana Chiefs Conference 

Technology: Solar + Battery Storage Systems, Microgrid Controls  

Solar, battery storage and microgrid

Project Impacts

  • Improve microgrid reliability and resilience for eight remote Alaskan communities that are inaccessible by road and only seasonably accessible by boat or small airplane 
  • Increase Tribal Energy Sovereignty and Security by reducing the amount of electricity produced with imported diesel thereby lowering energy costs and reducing greenhouse gas emissions 
  • Develop Alaska’s largest tribally owned and operated Independent Power Producer (IPP) by producing a net income in excess of $150,000 annually

Project Summary

This project aims to deploy high-penetration solar PV and battery storage systems into existing microgrids in eight remote tribal communities currently relying on diesel for 100% of their electrical production. All eight tribal communities are inaccessible by road and have limited seasonal accessibility by boat or small airplane, which leads to electricity costs that are more than four times higher than the national average. In collaboration with the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, the project team plans to modernize grid infrastructure, provide job training to tribal communities and develop Alaska’s largest tribally owned and operated Independent Power Producer (IPP). The project will strive to offset the region’s diesel consumption by 40%, which will lower energy costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 1,550 metric tons per year over the project’s 25-year lifespan.  

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, this project aims to improve grid reliability, enhance air quality, and decrease community energy burdens with potential savings of more than $100,000 annually. Moreover, the tribal ownership model is projected to generate a net income of $150,000 annually, which can be shared with tribal governments and used to develop future renewable projects in tribal communities across the region. The project team plans to engage with the communities through radio, online/print publications, and quarterly engagement meetings with village councils, and establish a utility board of tribal leaders from across the region to oversee the newly established IPP.  

For more information, email Alaska_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Chignik Hydroelectric Dam and Water Source Project

Location: Chignik Bay, Alaska

Federal Cost Share: $7,270,000

Selectee: The Lake and Peninsula Borough

Technology: Run-of-the-River Hydroelectric Facility

Hydroelectric facility

Project Impacts

  • Replace 100% of the community’s diesel consumption with renewable energy, and reduce energy burden
  • Provide power for heating and electric vehicles, and support local economic development (tourism and fisheries) for the Chignik Tribal community
  • Provide a new revenue stream with the Chignik Bay Tribal Council owning the hydroelectric facility and selling power to local utilities

Project Summary

This project plans to construct a new run-of-the-river hydroelectric facility, replacing a 70+ year-old wooden dam that is at risk of failure. Located in Chignik, Alaska, the project aims to improve energy and water security as the current dam leaks frequently, also jeopardizing the community’s only stable source of clean water. The proposed 2.1 MWh hydroelectric facility aims to replace 100% of the community’s diesel consumption. It also plans to provide excess power for heating, electric vehicle charging, and expansion of local economic activities like tourism and fish processing. The Chignik Bay Tribal Council will own the facility and plans to sell power to local utilities for 80% of the avoided cost of fuel, reducing total electricity rates by an estimated 7%. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, this tribally owned project aims to improve community energy resilience, lower utility bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve local air and water quality, and spur local economic development. The project team has secured over $6 million to rehabilitate the community’s water supply and anticipates creating up to 10 construction jobs with a tribal preference. This project represents the culmination of a multi-year collaboration among community stakeholders, the project team, and the fishing industry, to help determine how lower electricity costs can increase local economic development and ensure local salmon streams are preserved. 

For more information, email Alaska_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov

[Back to top]


Project Name: Clean Energy in the Northwest Arctic 

Location: Northwest Arctic Borough, Alaska

Federal Cost Share: $54,810,000

Selectee: Northwest Arctic Borough

Technology: Solar + Battery Storage System, AC/DC-Intertie, and Heat Pumps

Solar, battery storage and heatpump

Project Impacts

  • Ensure reliable access to energy and heating for remote villages across the Northwest Arctic region 
  • Reduce energy burden for native communities by lowering the cost of energy, lessening the need for diesel fuel, and eliminating the need to build a new diesel power plant
  • Enhance energy resilience by replacing an older transmission intertie between two remote native communities
  • Provide a new revenue source for each native community project by selling the renewable power to their local utility

Project Summary

This project aims to install over 4 MW of solar PV, over 7.1 MWh of battery storage systems, and approximately 850 heat pumps across the Northwest Arctic region. This project seeks to replace a 10-mile, overhead, distribution tie-line between the villages of Kobuk and Shungnak, allowing for greater interconnection in this remote region. Each of the 10 solar and battery storage projects will be owned and maintained by 11 federally recognized Alaska Native Villages, who will act as Independent Power Producers (IPP). As proposed, the Native Villages will be able to sell the power to their corresponding utility, potentially raising an estimated $970,000 in annual revenue. This four-year project is expected to displace more than 350,000 gallons of diesel fuel annually and save the region nearly $2 million in electricity and heating costs, while also demonstrating a new power-distribution technology for potential replication in other remote communities. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the project would develop a Memorandum of Agreement with each of the 11 recognized Alaska Native Villages to ensure a clear framework for promoting local hiring, transferring ownership agreements, and creating meaningful engagement. Project partners may be expected to implement a local hiring preference of 50% for Alaska Natives and local job seekers, leveraging the University of Alaska’s Native Science & Engineering Program to source candidates. The project’s proposed work also provides 100% of its benefits to disadvantaged communities.

For more information, email Alaska_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.  

[Back to top]


Project Name: Community Scale Rural Bioenergy Facilities

Location: California

Federal Cost Share: $30,000,000

Selectee: West Biofuels, LLC

Technology: Forest Biomass to Energy Conversion

Forest biomass conversion

Project Impacts

  • Provide low carbon, reliable energy for three remote communities that face high risk of wildfires
  • Reduce carbon emissions through the use of produced biochar that also can be sold in regional agricultural markets
  • Provide an end use and local market for biomass from forest thinning campaigns that are key to preventing forest fires in this region

Project Summary

This project aims to prevent local forest fires while providing low-carbon, stable energy for three communities in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Burney, Mariposa, and Mammoth Lakes are small, remote, mountainous communities threatened by wildfires and faced with frequent power outages due to extreme weather. State and federal programs have improved the management of dry, wildfire-fueling forest biomass through forest thinning campaigns and other land management activities. However, locally commercialized end uses for captured biomass are still limited. To address this issue, this project plans to deploy three community-scale bioenergy systems, transforming culled biomass into 100% renewable electricity and biochar soil amendments. Each facility aims to produce 3 MW of reliable, renewable electricity, utilizing 28,000-35,000 dry tons per year of residuals from sustainable forest management programs. The resulting biochar is anticipated to sequester 11,939 tons of carbon equivalent emissions per year and will likely be sold in regional agricultural markets. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, each site plans to create 15 new, permanent, good-paying jobs aimed at hiring from the local community. As a commitment to early, meaningful engagement, the project performer, West Biofuels, participated in multiple local hearings to allow community members to voice their opinions, concerns, and suggestions on the proposed project. West Biofuels engaged with stakeholders, including Fall River Resource Conservation District, Mariposa Biomass Project, Mariposa County Resource Conservation District, and Whitebark Institute as well as U.S. Forest Service and CalFire to provide information on the project and determine how the project can align with community interests and standards.

To date, the Town of Mammoth Lakes and the Inyo National Forest have provided Community Partnership Documents or Letters of Support to advocate for the project. If this project is awarded, DOE funding could accelerate commercialization of this technology in the U.S. to demonstrate how biomass culled from wildfire management activities can provide a low-carbon, resilient energy source.

For more information, email West_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Energizing Rural Hopi and Navajo with Solar Powered Battery-Based Systems

Location: Navajo and Hopi communities in AZ, NM, and UT

Federal Cost Share: $8,000,000

Selectee: Native Renewables Inc.

Technology: Solar PV and Battery Storage Systems in Off-Grid Homes

Solar, battery storage, off-grid home

Project Impacts

  • Enhance energy resilience and increase electrification rates within the Navajo and Hopi communities, who have some of the best solar resources yet lack access to electricity
  • Provide power to refrigerate food and medicine, improve safety with lighting, and increase internet accessibility
  • Strengthen the local Indigenous solar workforce with the skills to become solar technicians

Project Summary

This project seeks to reduce energy burden and electrify 300 tribal homes by installing 2.5 kW off-grid solar PV and battery storage systems. Communities within the Navajo and Hopi Nations have some of the best solar resources in the country and yet thousands of tribal homes lack access to electricity. Connecting a rural Navajo and Hopi home to the electric grid can be costly and can take several years until the home is electrified. Consequently, many of these families currently rely on kerosene and propane lanterns and gasoline generators. These families can spend up to 50% of their income on energy expenses.   

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the lead applicant, Native Renewables, plans to increase energy sovereignty across Navajo and Hopi Nations. Native Renewables plans to build upon their existing relationships with these communities and tribal leaders. They will also host training and education for participating households on solar electric energy systems and best practices to ensure the longevity of battery storage systems. Electrification could fulfill essential household needs, including powering lights, and refrigeration for food and medicine.

For more information, email West_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Fort Lupton Microgrid Project

Location: Colorado

Federal Cost Share: $6,120,000

Selectee: United Power 

Technology: Microgrid + Floating Solar PV Array, Battery Storage System

Microgrid, floating solar, battery storage

Project Impacts

  • Increase the reliability of the municipal water treatment plant and replace the aging diesel generator
  • Ensure there is reliable clean drinking water for a community that has historically had unreliable water supply and contaminated groundwater
  • Create new jobs and provide contracting outreach to the community

Project Summary

This project seeks to replace an aging diesel generator with a microgrid consisting of an 850-kilowatt floating solar PV array and a 500 kilowatt (kW) / 1,147 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery storage system sited on the community’s water treatment plant reservoir, helping to increase the reliability of clean drinking water. The community’s municipal water treatment plant relies on a backup diesel generator during periods of high demand and power outages. The aging generator has become unreliable which halts operations at the water treatment plant and negatively impacts communities in this region of Colorado. Households in rural Colorado have faced historic challenges securing a reliable clean water supply, particularly in areas where groundwater is contaminated.

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the microgrid aims to reduce the carbon footprint of the project performer, United Power, and the City of Fort Lupton. It is anticipated that project construction could create six full-time equivalent jobs, and United Power will partner with local Aims Community College and the BUENO Center for Multicultural Education to provide contracting outreach in this community. United Power will work with Schneider Electric to design, build and operate the fully integrated microgrid, which will improve power resiliency at the water treatment plant, reduce water evaporation, and help the city deliver reliable water services. To make this unique project economically viable, United Power and the City of Fort Lupton plan to enter an innovative, 20-year agreement allowing United Power to own the microgrid while the City of Fort Lupton pays for microgrid upgrades. The project’s potential benefits include improved energy resiliency, a 9% decrease in the city’s monthly power bill, and reduced evaporation from the water treatment plant reservoir. This model could serve as an example for other microgrid partnerships between small, rural utilities and local public works departments, which can expand access to clean and resilient energy in rural communities nationwide. 

For more information, email West_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Heat Pump Solutions for Mobile/Manufactured Homes 

Location: Rural Communities in Maine

Federal Cost Share: $10,000,000

Selectee: The Efficiency Maine Trust

Technology: Whole-Home Ducted Heat Pumps

Heatpump

Project Impacts

  • Secure cleaner, less expensive, and more reliable energy for low-income communities in one of the most rural states in the nation 
  • Reduce household heating costs and provide central air conditioning to communities who have low accessibility to natural gas and are still reliant on fuel oil
  • Expand heating solution to reach harder-to-access rural manufactured, also known as mobile, homes

Project Summary

This project aims to decrease energy costs and increase reliability by installing 675 whole-home ducted heat pumps in manufactured, also known as mobile, homes in rural Maine communities. Maine is one of the most rural states in the nation and lacks natural gas infrastructure. With the low availability of natural gas, Maine households rely on fuel oil more than anywhere else in the country, exposing communities to elevated levels of criteria air pollutants. Over 71% of households in Maine heat their homes with delivered fuel compared to the U.S. average of 9%. Delivered fuels, particularly kerosene, experience significant price volatility, exacerbating household energy burdens across the state. To alleviate this burden, each heat pump conversion in this project is projected to reduce household heating costs by 40%, while also providing central air conditioning. This project aims to help meet Maine’s ambitious heat pump goals, including 15,000 in low-income homes by 2025 and 115,000 homes with whole-home heat pump systems by 2030.

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, it is anticipated that all households receiving electric heat pumps are recognized as disadvantaged and priority populations by the Maine Climate Council’s Equity Subcommittee. To ensure that rural and remote communities receive these benefits, the Efficiency Maine Trust (EMT) plans to employ targeted strategies such as mailers, door to door visits, community events, trade and home shows, and collaboration with Community Action Agencies. Additionally, EMT aims to catalyze the local clean energy workforce by providing training and certificates for heat pump contractors through publicly available and free online resources, and by connecting them to local community colleges and labor unions.

For more information, email East_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Hopi Nation Community Solar Project

Location: Hopi Nation, Arizona

Federal Cost Share: $9,110,000

Selectee: Arizona State University

Technology: Hybrid Microgrid, Solar PV, and Battery Storage System with Optimized Back-Up Diesel Generation

10

Project Impacts

  • Provide 24/7 power for critical community services, IT, waste management, and health and human services
  • Prioritize local workforce development with a commitment to Hopi hiring preference and paid solar microgrid installation and OSHA training for workers
  • Create employment opportunities with general construction, solar/microgrid construction, and microgrid management jobs
  • Reduce the Hopi Reservation's diesel fuel consumption by replacing it with reliable clean energy

Project Summary

This project, led by Arizona State University (ASU) and in partnership with the Hopi Tribe and Box Energy, strives to deploy a hybrid microgrid consisting of a 1.25 MW solar PV array, battery storage systems, and existing back up diesel generators that will be optimized for 24/7 operation. Due to aging power infrastructure, building operations at the Turquoise Trail Municipal Complex on the Hopi Reservation have been limited to 12 hours per day, running just five days a week, and leaving the Tribe vulnerable to emergencies and lacking critical services during off-hours. The Turquoise Trail Municipal Complex is comprised of the Incident Command Center, IT Hub, Department of Health & Human Services, Social Services, and Solid Waste Department, and is powered by seven outdated 130 kilowatt (kW) diesel generators. The proposed hybrid microgrid aims to provide 24/7 power for these critical services and serve as a model for tribes and rural communities facing similar energy constraints, which will foster economic growth through a continuous and reliable supply of cleaner energy.

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the Hopi Tribe plans to partner with ASU and BoxPower to ensure the project helps meet the needs of the Tribe’s economy and community members. The closure of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station in 2019 eradicated 88% of the Hopi Tribe’s primary economic base, with the Tribe now ranking in the 75th percentile for energy-burdened communities. The project plans to employ up to 19 local workers for temporary construction jobs, up to 12 newly trained solar/microgrid construction workers, and one long-term microgrid manager. BoxPower and Hopi Utilities Corporation committed to a Hopi hiring preference as well as 80-120 hours of paid solar installation and OSHA training for laborers.

For more information, email West_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Mashkiiziibii Minigrid

Location: Bad River Reservation, Wisconsin

Federal Cost Share: $14,080,000

Selectee: Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians

Technology: Mini-Grid, Solar PV, and Battery Storage System, Utility Upgrades to Create Islanding Capabilities

Mini-grid, solar, battery storage, utility upgrade

Project Impacts

  • Provide increased grid resilience for community that experiences power outages
  • Reduce energy burden for tribal communities by lowering utility bills
  • Support the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians goal of net-zero carbon emissions and 100% renewable electricity generation by 2027

Project Summary

This project aims to deploy a hybrid mini-grid to build energy resilience in communities that often face extreme weather events and power outages along the shores of Lake Superior. The Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (also known as Mashkiiziibii in the Ojibwemowin language) will serve as the project’s lead contractor to build a planned 5 MW of solar power plus 8 MWh of battery storage. It is anticipated that the solar power and storage facility will connect with existing diesel and natural gas generation to form a hybrid mini-grid, enabling the reservation’s Odanah and Birch Hill communities to maintain power amidst power outages. This project aims to help the Bad River Band reach its goal of net zero carbon emissions with 100% renewable electricity generation by 2027 and provide a model for replication in other tribes and rural communities.

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the Bad River Band Tribe plans to work alongside the University of Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Community Initiative to reduce utility bills by 10%. It is anticipated that the project will also provide employment and financial benefits to tribal members, who face a 14% unemployment rate. The project aims to contribute $200,000 to workforce development training for local tribal members and contract 50% of workers from the tribal community. The tribe seeks to partner with a local school district, community college, and university, to design new employee training and brainstorm activities to support and formalize clean energy workforce development in Wisconsin. 

For more information, email Midwest_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Microgrids for Community Affordability, Resilience, and Energy Decarbonization (CARED)

Location: 7 communities (Anza, CA; Arivaca, AZ; Clinton, MT; Cooke City, MT; Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community, MN; Decatur, TN; Cherry Lane, NC)

Federal Cost Share: $45,280,000

Selectee: NRECA Research

Technology: Microgrids including Solar PV and Battery Storage System with Distribution Upgrades

Microgrid, solar, battery storage, distribution upgrade

Project Impacts

  • Improve grid resilience and reliability in each project region and ultimately benefit 16 census tracts, 12 of which are disadvantaged or partially disadvantaged
  • Provide a forum for sharing best practices among local communities
  • Create new jobs supporting local economies across seven communities

Project Summary

This project, led by National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Research, plans to create a consortium of rural electric cooperatives and deploy microgrids (including solar PV, battery storage systems, and distribution upgrades) across seven rural communities in California, North Carolina, Minnesota, Arizona, Tennessee, and Montana. This national microgrid deployment effort aims to demonstrate region-specific energy systems that improve energy access, enhance energy resilience, and increase capacity for renewable energy deployments at a community level. Establishing a consortium of rural utilities could enable communities to collectively pursue federal funding, addressing capacity constraints and financial barriers. The cooperatives seek to devise methodologies and implementation strategies tailored to their local community, sharing best practices with the broader membership of almost 900 utility cooperatives during annual meetings.

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, more than 70% of consortium members have a Collective Bargaining Agreement in place to deliver economic and workforce development to their local communities. Specifically, these projects anticipate creating an estimated 85 full-time temporary jobs.

For more information, email East_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


Project Name: Montezuma Microgrid

Location: Montezuma, Iowa

Federal Cost Share: $9,480,000

Selectee: Iowa State University Electric Power Research Center

Technology: Solar PV + Battery Storage System Microgrid with Substation Improvements, Advanced Metering, and Electric Vehicle Chargers

Solar, battery storage, substation improvements, microgrid, advanced metering, EV charger

Project Impacts

  • Increase energy resilience and reliability for a rural community experiencing power losses due to extreme weather events and aging infrastructure
  • Reduce reliance on fossil fuels by providing renewable power for residential homes, commercial buildings, and industries
  • Provide education and training by creating a renewable microgrid curriculum for community colleges
  • Support local workforce development initiatives through Meskwaki Nation training and apprenticeship programs 

Project Summary

This project plans to implement the first utility-scale microgrid in the state, providing energy resilience and reliability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The City of Montezuma is a rural community with 1,460 residents that experiences extreme weather events, aging infrastructure, and a 53% reliance on fossil fuels. The project aims to deploy a 2.5 MW solar array and 1.5 MWh battery storage system microgrid with electric vehicle chargers and advanced metering to reduce reliance on aging infrastructure and back-up diesel generation. In partnership with Montezuma Municipal Light and Power, the town’s community-owned utility, the project seeks to service 706 residential homes, 201 commercial buildings, and two industries. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the project will be owned by a community-owned utility and plans to provide workforce development opportunities and ensure meaningful community engagement in the City of Montezuma. More than 40 local community groups have endorsed the project through community partnership letters that range from labor unions; veteran, minority, and women-owned businesses; community colleges; and Iowa state and local governments. Additionally, the project seeks to develop a renewable microgrid curriculum for community colleges and the Meskwaki Nation to provide training and apprenticeship programs for the local workforce.

For more information, email Midwest_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov

[Back to top]


Project Name: Old Harbor Hydroelectric Project

Location: Old Harbor, Alaska

Federal Cost Share: $10,000,000

Selectee: Alutiiq Tribe of Old Harbor

Technology: Run-of-the-River Hydroelectric Facility and Electric Transmission Line

Hydroelectric facility, transmission line

Project Impacts

  • Provide a year-round reliable energy source for a remote tribal village located 50 miles from the nearest social services
  • Reduce energy burden and lower energy costs by directly subsidizing water, sewer, and electricity bills
  • Demonstrate a tribal ownership business model that may be replicated in a multitude of similar villages within the region

Project Summary

This project plans to construct a run-of-the-river hydroelectric facility with a diversion structure, pipeline, powerhouse, and electric transmission line in Old Harbor, Alaska. It is anticipated that the project will be capable of generating about 3,470 MWh of energy annually and offset diesel fuel use at the local power plant by 95%, enabling a year-round reliable energy source. Old Harbor is a remote Alutiiq Tribal village on Kodiak Island, Alaska, approximately 50 air miles from the nearest social services in the City of Kodiak. There are nearly 200 residents in Old Harbor and 83% are Native Alaskans who rely on a subsistence diet, collecting berries, fish, and game meat for food. According to the Denali Commission, 88% of residents live below the federal poverty line, with a median household income of $13,181, and experience disproportionally higher cost energy bills. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the Alutiiq Tribe and project partners will work to ensure stable sources of clean water and energy while reducing the negative health impacts of using diesel fuel. The Tribe intends to sell hydropower generated through the project to local utilities for 80% of the avoided cost of a gallon of diesel fuel. The project will ensure energy security and will provide benefits to each household. The Old Harbor Hydroelectric project seeks to demonstrate a tribal ownership business model that may be replicable in 209 similar rural villages within the region. 

For more information, email Alaska_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov

[Back to top]


Project Name: Resilience and Prosperity in Rural Northern Wisconsin

Location: 24 sites across Red Cliff Band Tribal Lands and Bayfield County, Wisconsin

Federal Cost Share: $9,780,000

Selectee: Wisconsin Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy

Technology: Solar Photovoltaic + Battery Storage System Microgrids 

Solar, battery storage and microgrid

Project Impacts

  • Improve energy stability with backup power for 23 rural communities who frequently lose power due to extreme weather events
  • Provide clean energy job opportunities for remote Wisconsin communities

Project Summary

This project seeks to increase regional energy reliability with the deployment of 23 microgrid systems. In these remote towns along Lake Superior, residents face frequent power outages due to lake-enhanced extreme weather events. The State of Wisconsin’s Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (OSCE) will serve as the lead applicant to help improve resiliency against power outages by deploying solar power, battery storage, smart controls enabling islanding, and electric vehicle charging stations. This project seeks to ensure critical public service maintenance during grid disruptions and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the OSCE aims to promote local workforce development, ensure avenues for meaningful public engagement, and provide clean energy education to residents. Project partners plan to collaborate with existing state, local, and tribal clean energy apprenticeship programs and labor unions to hire one full-time position for Bayfield County and one full-time position for Red Cliff Band to manage the energy projects. Additionally, OSCE plans to hold public meetings and Q&A sessions, conduct community surveys, and offer free site tours to the public to create multiple avenues for meaningful two-way engagement. OSCE will also establish a Community Advisory Board to provide guidance on the program and ensure the project aligns with the community’s needs and priorities. 

For more information, email Midwest_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov

[Back to top]


Project Name: Solar + Storage Microgrids for Rural Community Health Centers

Location: Tunica, MS and 125-175 sites across the Southeast (AL, FL, GA, KY, MS, NC, SC, TN)

Federal Cost Share: $57,010,000

Selectee: National Association of Community Health Centers

Technology: Solar PV and Battery Storage Systems

Solar, battery storage and microgrid

Project Impacts

  • Provide microgrids to rural community health centers across the Southeast to decrease power outages
  • Ensure electricity for critical life-saving equipment such as ventilators, dialysis, and refrigeration of insulin
  • Reduce energy burden through reduced power bills and financial losses incurred from power outages
  • Support community workforce by providing microgrid deployment training and local recruitment

Project Summary

The CHARGE Partnership, made up of the mission-aligned organizations the National Association of Community Health Centers, Capital Link, Collective Energy, and Clean Energy Group, plans to build energy resilience in Community Health Centers to improve access to reliable health care in low-income, rural communities across eight states in the southeast. The initial site for this project is in Tunica, Mississippi in partnership with Aaron E. Henry Community Health Center, which will incorporate additional community and workforce initiatives. The clean, resilient energy systems developed through this project will benefit up to 175 health center sites, ensuring energy reliability for critical medical equipment, refrigeration of insulin and vaccines, and continuity of care during emergencies and power outages. Participating health centers could save up to $45 million in energy costs, avoid millions in losses due to closures, decrease greenhouse gas emissions, and create a scalable, replicable model for remote health care providers, strengthening the resilience of vulnerable communities across the country.  

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, project partners plan to work to ensure a robust clean energy workforce, create meaningful community engagement, and expand clean energy education initiatives. The project team has expressed its commitment to negotiating formal and enforceable workforce and community agreements which will include legally enforceable metrics, timelines, commitments to communities, wages and benefits, and workforce training opportunities. Additionally, the project team plans to host listening sessions with local community leaders and labor organizations to provide an opportunity for two-way engagement and community input. 

For more information, email East_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov

[Back to top]


Project Name: Thayer Creek Hydroelectric Project

Location: Angoon, Alaska

Federal Cost Share: $26,920,000

Selectee: Kootznoowoo, Inc.

Technology: Run-of-the-River Hydroelectric Facility and Transmission Line

Hydroelectric facility, transmission line

Project Impacts

  • Provide electricity generation and an emergency power backup system to prevent frequent power outages
  • Provide a clean energy source to replace the community’s reliance on imported diesel and heating oil
  • Reduce energy burdens across five different communities in southeast Alaska by lowering electricity rates
  • Utilize local workforce and create both construction and maintenance jobs 

Project Summary

This project encompasses an 850-kilowatt, run-of-the-river hydroelectric project that has the potential to supply three times the community’s current electricity needs, providing additional power for heating, fish processing, electric vehicle charging, and tourism. Kootznoowoo, Incorporated (KI) is the Alaska Native Village Corporation for the community of Angoon, the ancient home of the Tlingit Xóotsnoowe'di people with a population of 357 residents. In 1980, as part of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (P.L. 96-487), KI and the community of Angoon gave up the rights to their ancestral land to establish the Admiralty Island National Monument. As compensation for the loss of the lands, KI was granted the right to develop Thayer Creek Hydroelectric. However, the initial agreement did not include funding, and more than 40 years later, the Tlingit people are still entirely reliant on imported diesel which leads to energy costs that are 4.5 times the national average. This project aims to provide an avenue to address historical oversight and support access to reliable and affordable energy for the Tlingit people.

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the project is expected to create 30 construction jobs and one full-time operation and maintenance position. Thayer Creek is expected to displace 12.9 million gallons of diesel and reduce carbon emissions. Once fully operational, the project is expected to reduce energy rates across five Alaskan communities.

For more information, email Alaska_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov

[Back to top]


Project Name: Yakama Tribal Solar Canal & Hydro Project

Location: Yakama Indian Reservation, Washington

Federal Cost Share: $32,000,000

Selectee: The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation 

Technology: Solar and Hydropower Irrigation System

Solar, hydropower irrigation

Project Impacts

  • Provide greater grid resilience, renewable energy supply, and service reliability for Yakama Nation while reducing energy burden in a tribal community
  • Construct a micro-hydro system in an in-ground pressurized pipeline with solar energy generation over the pipeline right-of-way
  • Improve irrigation efficiency to benefit grazing and irrigated agriculture, the area’s key economic drivers
  • Ensure project dollars are reinvested and continue to circulate within the tribal community by training and hiring local tribal members

Project Summary

This project aims to convert inefficient, open-water irrigation canals into a solar and micro-hydropower irrigation system. This cutting-edge system could conserve up to 20% more water and help energy-burdened residents save up to 15% on their utility bills. Additionally, the project team plans to build solar panels on land that the Tribe knows does not risk disturbing cultural resources, providing a replicable solution for responsible solar siting. It is anticipated that deploying solar technologies will increase the Yakama Nation’s renewable power supply, while improving its energy resilience and reliability. Improvements in irrigation efficiency could also benefit grazing and irrigated agriculture, the area’s key economic drivers. 

As part of its Community Benefits Plan, the project team plans to train and hire local tribal members to ensure project dollars are reinvested and continue to circulate within the community. This project aims to create at least 10 full-time positions, leading to a stronger local economy and increased disposable income for the reservation. The engagement plan also incorporates local stakeholders, including local labor and community-based organizations in a manner that can impact project decisions. 

For more information, email West_ERA2970@hq.doe.gov.

[Back to top]


FAQs

The Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) program received $1 billion from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to improve the resilience, reliability, and affordability of energy systems in communities across the country with 10,000 or fewer people.  

The ERA program aims to fund community-driven energy projects that deliver measurable benefits to customers and build clean energy knowledge and capacity throughout rural America.  

As of February 2024, DOE has announced three funding announcements as part of the $1 billion ERA program and is collecting feedback and data from previous applicants, rural communities, and stakeholders to inform the development of future funding opportunities. To date, DOE has announced the following ERA funding opportunities: 

  • Cooperative Agreement Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): provides funding for projects that advance resilience and provide benefits to one or more rural or remote communities. DOE announced $366 million for 17 projects selected for award negotiations in February 2024 under this FOA.  
  • Energizing Rural Communities Prize: challenges individuals and organizations to develop partnership plans and innovative financing strategies to support efforts in rural or remote communities to improve their energy systems and advance clean energy demonstration projects. DOE announced 67 winners for the first phase of the prize in July 2023. 
  • Grant Funding Opportunity Announcement: provides grant funding for small community-driven projects. As a direct response to feedback from rural and remote communities, OCED simplified the application process, removed the cost-share requirement, offered technical assistance, and reduced the financial reporting requirements to deliver for rural America and eliminate barriers preventing access to federal funding. 

The 17 projects selected for award negotiation span 20 states and at least 30 tribal nations and communities.

map of US with ERA project selections

map of Alaska with ERA project selections

The ERA program aims to fund community-driven energy projects that deliver measurable benefits to customers, and build clean energy knowledge and capacity throughout rural America.  

The projects selected for award negotiation cover a wide range of clean energy technologies to support rural and remote communities around the country – from solar, battery energy storage systems and microgrids to hydropower, heat pumps, biomass, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. 

The ERA program also expects to support new economic opportunities for rural and remote communities while also supporting DOE’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. These projects will contribute to the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which set a goal that 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities. 

Following a Request for Information in October 2022 to solicit public input, DOE issued a Funding Opportunity Announcement in March 2023, and then conducted merit reviews of eligible project submissions. The merit review criteria included:  

  • Technical Merit, Innovation, and Impact (30%) 
  • Financial and Market Viability (20%) 
  • Workplan (15%) 
  • Management Team and Project Partners (15%) 
  • Community Benefits Plan (20%) 

All applications were evaluated through a rigorous merit review process as well as a secondary level of vetting that was conducted by a federal review panel to confirm the validity and strength of applications. These criteria included an evaluation of meeting funding announcement objectives, including energy resilience and reliability, project scope and timeline, and strategic community engagement.  

OCED will engage in early, frequent, and meaningful engagement with communities that host the ERA projects. Communities will have substantive opportunities to engage with both DOE and the projects—starting during the negotiation process and extending throughout the full lifecycle of each project.  

On February 29, 2024, OCED will host a national stakeholder briefing to provide an update on the ERA program and share highlights on the projects selected for award negotiations. Additionally, OCED will co-host four regional briefings with selectees to allow participants to engage with DOE and selected projects in their region. Selectees will provide information about their projects, discuss the project timeline, and share how community members can be involved. OCED will continue to work with stakeholders and tribes throughout the design, construction, and immediate operation of the ERA projects. Learn more about ERA local engagement opportunities here

ERA projects that are successfully negotiated and awarded are required to implement their Community Benefits Plans, including engaging with community and labor groups; investing in America’s workforce; advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility; and supporting the Justice40 Initiative.  

If awarded, OCED will evaluate these projects through a phased approach to project management that includes “go/no-go” decision points between each project phase where DOE reviews and evaluates the key elements of the project, including community benefit commitments, and assesses how well they are being implemented.