On May 16, 2023, $11 billion in funding was announced for two new programs created under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the Empowering Rural America (“New ERA”) program and the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, which will both be administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).
The New ERA program makes nearly $10 billion available to rural electric cooperatives for efficiency improvements to eligible generation and transmission systems; for developing renewable energy, zero-emissions, and carbon capture storage systems; or for purchasing renewable energy. Applicants may choose to pursue affordable fixed-rate or partially forgivable loans, grant funding to cover up to 25 percent of total project costs, or a loan and grant combination for loan refinancing or loan modification. This program will be accepting Letters of Interest from eligible entities between July 31 and August 31, 2023. More program details can be found here.
The PACE program offers $1 billion to eligible entities or partnerships that generate electricity for resale, where greater than 50 percent of communities serviced by the entity must have populations of 20,000 or fewer. The program supports designated energy communities, disadvantaged or distressed communities, and Tribal communities. The funding will be in the form of forgivable loans to finance renewable energy projects that use wind, solar, hydropower, geothermal, biomass, and/or renewable energy storage, where individual loan allocations will range between $1 million and $100 million. This program will be accepting Letters of Interest and full application submissions on a rolling basis between June 30 and September 29, 2023. More program details can be found here.