Clean energy in rural America gets another big boost of federal… – Canary Media

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The grants announced this week, of $500,000 to $5 million per project, are meant to bolster energy resilience and reliability while also boosting clean energy knowledge and capacity in these underserved areas. The program also aims to reduce how much rural and disadvantaged families spend on energy, a fraction of their income known as their energy burden.” On average, low-income households have three times the energy burden of other households, which can lead to untenable decisions between paying for fuel or electricity and other necessities, such as meals and medicine.

The Department of Energy announced $78 million for the above 19 projects announced this week under the Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas program. (DOE)

The size and scope of the projects range widely, but here are a few that were awarded the highest amount of $5 million: The Adams Electric Cooperative–led project in Schuyler County, Illinois, will install a 1-megawatt wind turbine and a 1-megawatt solar array to provide clean electricity for about 7,500 families in an area affected by the closure of coal mines. The Monongahela Power Company–led project will rebuild 23 miles of distribution power lines to improve grid reliability for more than 3,000 disadvantaged customers in West Virginia. And a project co-led by Dallas County and the Alabama Board of Education will enable up to nine schools in the county serving thousands of K–12 students to undergo energy efficient retrofits — three of those schools will install rooftop solar — in order to create a healthier learning environment while also reducing energy costs and slashing carbon pollution.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma was selected to install 2.1 megawatt-hours of battery storage to serve a microgrid on their Poteau campus. Located near Tornado Alley” and prone to whipping winds and torrential rain, the area has seen an average of three power outages per year since 2018, according to Randy Sachs, director of public relations for the nation. In emergencies, the microgrid will provide backup power to a health clinic, child development center, and food distribution center.

We are tremendously excited with the opportunity to provide consistent power for our tribal members in the Poteau area, especially with services such as healthcare,” Choctaw Nation Chief Gary Batton said in a statement. The Choctaw project will also include heat pumps and other energy efficiency upgrades expected to save $140,000 annually.

Selected applicants will now start negotiating awards with the DOE, Galer said. That process won’t necessarily change the amount of money awarded to each project, but it will clarify how details such as anticipated costs may have shifted since applicants submitted their plans. The DOE aims to finalize the awards by the end of the year.

With still about half of the program’s $1 billion left, Galer noted that she expects the agency will announce at least one more funding opportunity in 2024 to build out clean energy in rural America.

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