On May 16th, the Biden-Harris Administration announced the availability of nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities that will help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country. Funding is available through two programs under the Inflation Reduction Act. Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will be opening a Letter of Interest process for the Empowering Rural America (“New ERA”) program, which makes $9.7 billion available to eligible rural electric cooperatives to deploy renewable energy systems, zero-emission and carbon capture systems. In addition to New ERA, USDA will also be opening a Letter of Interest process for the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, which makes $1 billion available in partially forgivable loans to renewable-energy developers and electric service providers, including municipals, cooperatives, and investor-owned and Tribal utilities to help finance large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower projects and energy storage in support of renewable energy systems.
More information on the New ERA program is available here. Rural electric cooperatives, including current and previous USDA borrowers, are eligible for funding. To apply, eligible entities must submit a Letter of Interest between July 31 and August 31, 2023.
More information on the PACE program is available here. Loans through this program may be forgiven by 40% of the loan amount, and the maximum loan amount is $100 million. For this program, USDA will begin accepting Letters of Interest starting on June 30, 2023, on a rolling basis until September 29, 2023.