U.S. Department of Agriculture: Assistance to High Energy Cost Communities Grant Program
The Assistance to High Energy Cost Communities Program provides assistance for communities most challenged by extremely high energy costs, defined by statute as average residential home energy expenditures that are 275 percent or more of the national average. This threshold for eligibility is high and has the result of limiting the availability of this program to extremely high cost and typically remote areas. The purpose of the program is to provide financial assistance for a broad range of energy facilities, equipment, and related activities to offset the impact of extremely high home energy costs on eligible communities.
Assistance to High Energy Cost grants help communities provide basic energy needs by financing energy infrastructure supporting rural prosperity and job creation. Grant funds may be used to acquire, construct, extend, upgrade, or otherwise improve energy generation, transmission, or distribution facilities serving eligible communities. All energy generation, transmission, and distribution facilities and equipment, used to provide electricity, natural gas, home heating fuels, and other energy service to eligible communities are eligible. Projects providing or improving energy services to eligible communities through on-grid and off-grid renewable energy projects, energy efficiency, and energy conservation projects are eligible. A grant project is eligible if it improves, or maintains energy services, or reduces the costs of providing energy services to eligible communities. Grant projects must serve an eligible community and not be for the primary benefit of an individual applicant, household, or business.
Priorities will be given for projects that:
- Provide assistance to U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) High Poverty Areas
- Serve small rural communities
- Incorporate commercially proven waste heat recovery technology
- Result in not less than a 25% increase in energy efficiency for generation assets, this includes repowering aging diesel plant
- Address extraordinary circumstances affecting the eligible high energy cost community such as a disaster, imminent hazard, unserved areas, and other economic hardship
- Serve Substantially Underserved Trust Areas
Amount: A total of $10,000,000 is available to award up to 10 grants, ranging from $100,000-$3,000,000.
Eligibility: Legally-organized for-profit or nonprofit organizations such as, but not limited to, a corporation, association, partnership (including a limited liability partnership), cooperative, or trust; a sole proprietorship; a state or local government, or any agency or instrumentality of a state or local government, including a municipal utility or public power authority; an Indian tribe, tribally-owned entity, or Alaska Native corporation; an individual or group of individuals applying on behalf of unincorporated community associations, and not for the primary benefit of a single household or business. Applicant must be located in the U.S., a U.S. Territory, or other area authorized by law to participate in programs of the Rural Utilities Service or under the Rural Electrification Act.
Eligible communities: Eligibility benchmarks are established using the most recent home energy data published by the Energy Information Administration. See the solicitation to review current benchmarks for fuel types, average annual household expenditures, and high energy cost benchmarks (275% of national average).
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