DOE invests $366 million for clean energy in rural areas

March 1, 2024

The Department of Energy has awarded $366 million to 17 projects to increase renewable energy development in rural areas. Spanning 20 states and 30 Native communities and Tribal Nations, the projects in remote parts of the United States include ensuring stable power for a health center, investing in hydroelectricity and bringing solar and battery systems to locations that are currently off the grid.

“DOE is helping revitalize communities across America — ensuring thriving businesses, reliable access to clean energy, and exciting new economic opportunities, now and for generations to come,” U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm said in a press release.

The grant program, managed by the DEO’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations, is funded through the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The $366 million is part of a $1 billion program for energy projects benefitting rural areas with less than 10,000 residents. In total, the office handles more than $25 billion in funding to implement emerging clean energy technology as part of the path toward net zero emissions by 2050.

Solar power will play a big role with 12 of the projects, including solar and 11 with battery storage. In addition to funding for six hydropower facilities and nine microgrids that help stabilize local electricity supply, some of the projects involve installing energy efficient heat pumps, electric vehicle charging stations and building a biomass power generating facility.

The largest grant – $57.1 million – will be used to create microgrids with solar and battery storage for up to 175 rural community health centers in the Southeastern U.S., the first in Tunica, Mississippi. The microgrid is supposed to shield health centers from power outages and is estimated to save millions in existing energy costs.

Alaska will benefit from the next-largest grant of $54.8 million for reliable energy and installation of heat pumps in the Northwest Arctic region. The funding will help install 10 solar and battery arrays to be owned and maintained by residents of the remote Native Alaskan villages. Additionally, 850 heat pumps, which use less energy than traditional heating, will also be installed at homes across 11 villages.

At the Yakama Indian Reservation in Washington state, $32 million will go toward an integrated solar and hydropower system. The system will run along a canal using water flow to generate electricity and solar panels nearby. Upgrades to the canal are also expected to conserve 20% of the water supply.

The awards the Department of Energy announced are not final. The applicants and DOE will now enter a negotiations phase in which changes could be made in the application, and DOE has the right to change or rescind grant amounts.

The Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations is also not done giving out money for rural clean energy and microgrid projects. A $50 million grant program will also announce the awardees and negotiate awards this spring. The $15 million Energizing Rural Communities Prize is wrapping up Phase 2 of proposals, with awardees expected to be announced in August.

Strategic Partnerships, Inc. can provide information on contract opportunities, plus existing and future government funding. For more information, contact

Photo by Zbynek Burival on Unsplash

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