US DOE allocates US$366 million for renewables projects in rural and remote areas

solar-plus-storage project in Massachusetts
A solar-plus-storage project in the US state of Massachusetts. Image: US Department of Energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced a plan to allocate over US$366 million for 17 clean energy projects in rural and remote areas in the US. 

DOE said the selected projects are located in or adjacent to disadvantaged communities affected by pollution and historically underserved. The projects cover different types of clean energy, including solar, battery energy storage systems (BESS), microgrids and electric vehicle charging infrastructure, to name a few.

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At least 12 projects will support tribal communities, installing solar and BESS to provide electricity for 300 homes. Among these projects, the Solar + Storage Microgrids for Rural Community Health Centers project plans to provide solar PV systems, BESS and microgrids in community health centres to decrease power outages and ensure electricity for critical life-saving equipment.

Meanwhile, the Hopi Nation Community Solar Project will use hybrid microgrids, solar PV systems, and BESS to power critical community services, IT, waste management and health and human services.

DOE said rural and remote communities usually face multiple energy challenges due to their smaller populations and isolation from larger electrical systems, including higher electric bills, unreliable energy supplies and no access to electricity.

In total, more than 17 projects across 20 states and 30 Tribal Nations and communities were included in this announcement. The announced projects are part of DOE’s Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) programme, which improves the reliability and affordability of energy systems in communities across the country with 10,000 or fewer people.

Prior to these projects, DOE also chose three companies, including Sunrun, Sunnova and power product supplier Generac, to install rooftop solar and battery storage systems for vulnerable households in Puerto Rico.

The selection was the first round from the 2023 PR-ERF Funding Opportunity Announcement. Eligible beneficiaries will include very low-income, single-family households that are either located in areas that have a high percentage of very low-income households and experience frequent and prolonged power outages or include a resident with an energy-dependent disability.

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