CEO’s Report: Funding opportunities for public power

A variety of funding opportunities are available through both the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

While the different funding mechanisms can be difficult to navigate, American Public Power Association maintains a page on their website dedicated to outlining funding sources available for public power utilities.

Below are a few opportunities worth looking into for both utilities and your customers, as well as resources as to where to find more information.

 

Consumer energy rebate funding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced nearly $9 billion will be available to states and Tribes from the IRA for consumer home energy rebate programs.

DOE estimates that the home energy efficiency and electrification consumer rebates will save households up to $1 billion annually.

DOE is holding a series of listening sessions through January to engage stakeholders in the process. They will issue a Request for Information for public input in early 2023.

DOE estimates funding will by available by Spring 2023 with the rebates available to the public later in the year.

The IRA includes multiple tax incentives and investments to boost consumer home energy rebate programs.

Some programs states will implement with IRA funding include point of sale rebates, high efficiency electric home rebates, heat pump rebates and others.

To learn more about home energy efficiency and electrification rebates available through Inflation Reduction Act, visit https://cleanenergy.gov/.

 

Cybersecurity for rural communities

The DOE is seeking public input on a new $250 million program to strengthen the cybersecurity posture of rural, municipal and small investor-owned electric utilities.

Funded by the IIJA, the Rural and Municipal Utility Advanced Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance (RMUC) program will help eligible utilities harden energy systems, processes, and assets; improve incident response capabilities; and increase cybersecurity skills in the utility workforce.

According to a DOE release, nearly one in six Americans live in a remote or rural community. Utilities in these communities face considerable obstacles, including difficulty recruiting top cybersecurity talent, inadequate infrastructure to support new technologies, and lack of financial resources needed to modernize and harden their systems. 

The RMUC Program will provide financial and technical assistance to help utilities improve operational capabilities, increase access to cybersecurity services, and deploy advanced cyber security technologies. Priority will be given to eligible utilities that have limited cybersecurity resources, are critical to the reliability of the bulk power system, or those that support our national defense infrastructure. 

The DOE is seeking public input on the RFI which can be found here. On the right-hand side, click the second document under Funding Opportunity. Responses to the RFI must be submitted via email to DE-FOA-0002877@netl.doe.gov by 5:00 p.m. ET on December 19, 2022.

The American Public Power Association will also submit comments and welcomes member feedback. Members can contact Bridgette Bourge, Senior Director for Cybersecurity at APPA, at Bbourge@publicpower.org with thoughts on this RFI.

 

Other funding

Other opportunities exist for rural communities through the IIJA and IRA.

The IIJA includes $80 million to make K-12 schools more energy efficient and lower their energy costs. Administered by the DOE, the grant program will fund energy and health improvements in public schools across the country.

This investment is the first of its kind from DOE, and eligible projects will include energy improvements that reduce building operating costs – like new HVAC and ventilation systems, building envelope and lighting projects, and alternative fuel and renewable energy technologies. Applications for the first round of this grant, with up to $80 million available for schools, will open in November 2022 and close in January 2023. 

A grant program through the U.S. Department of Transportation will provide grants to eligible entities for the deployment of electric, hydrogen, propane or natural gas vehicle infrastructure along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors. Fifty percent of the overall funding is set aside for “Community Grants” for which public power utilities would be eligible. These grants do not require, but allow for, partnerships with private entities and can be used to deploy fueling infrastructure in public locations, including parking facilities, public buildings, public schools and parks.

The DOT has made a toolkit available as a one-stop resource to help rural communities scope, plan, and fund EV charging infrastructure. It can be used to identify key partners for a project, take advantage of relevant planning tools, and identify available funding or financing to help make that project a reality.

A complete listing of funding opportunities along with due dates can be found here.

Heartland Energy will continue to monitor funding opportunities available to public power communities and keep you apprised of any developments.