brushed metal background
Energizing Rural Communities Prize logo

Energizing Rural Communities Prize

The Energizing Rural Communities Prize is for you if you want to build essential partnerships or secure the capital needed to help a rural or remote community improve their energy systems and advance clean energy demonstration projects.

Energizing Rural Communities Prize

The U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations (OCED) launched the $15 million Energizing Rural Communities Prize to challenge individuals and organizations to develop partnership plans or innovative financing strategies to help rural or remote communities improve their energy systems and advance clean energy demonstration projects.

This prize is part of OCED's $1 billion Energy Improvements in Rural or Remote Areas (ERA) Program which was created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to demonstrate new ways to improve the resilience, reliability, safety, availability, and environmental performance of energy systems serving our nation's rural or remote areas with populations of no more than 10,000 people. The ERA program reflects the Biden-Harris Administration's continued commitment to ensuring no communities are left behind in the historic transition to a clean energy future.

Nearly 50 million Americans live in rural or remote areas where energy costs are often disproportionately high and service can be unreliable. The ERA Program found that two of the primary barriers to improving rural and remote energy systems are the limited access to partners and to funding.

Home Electrification Prize Icon. Cartoon house outlined with a power cord.

Prize Structure

The Energizing Rural Communities Prize has 2 tracks, and each track has 2 phases.

Track 1: Partner

Applicants to the Partner track should focus on strategies to build or improve partnerships that connect rural or remote communities to government funding, technical assistance, or a support ecosystem to help implement clean energy demonstration projects. Prize submissions could include plans for securing resources to support early-stage projects, aggregating energy demonstration projects to make workforce or equipment acquisition more efficient, creating opportunities for communities to collaborate, or forming project teams.

Track 2: Finance

Applicants to the Finance track should focus on developing innovative business models and approaches to community ownership models that help finance clean energy demonstration projects in rural or remote areas. Prize submissions could include plans to develop new community ownership models, innovative financing mechanisms to support local businesses, local green banks, training programs on underwriting and accessing capital, and business models for long-term operations and maintenance solutions.

* Applicants can submit to multiple tracks, but must apply for each separately

** Phase One winning teams will also receive in-kind mentorship and other support services during the 12-month period following winner announcements.

Timeline for Energizing Rural Prize. Partner Track: $10M Prize Pool, Finance Track: $5M Prize Pool.

Important Dates

Phase 1

Phase 1 Opens:

March 1, 2023

Phase 1 Closes:

May 24, 2023

Winner Announcement:

July, 2023

Phase 2

Phase 2 Opens:

July, 2023

Phase 2 Closes:

July, 2024

Winner Announcement:

August, 2024

All dates are subject to change including contest openings, deadlines, and announcements.

Sign up for updates for the Rural Energy Prize here.

Who is Eligible to Compete?

The competition is open to individuals and organizations that may include entrepreneurs, university faculty and student groups, community organizations, tribal and local governments, financial institutions, and industry professionals.

a cartoon illustration of a rural community powered by renewable energy. Text that says American-Made Challenges, and Rural Energy Prize

Solutions that help shape the future

Do you see an opportunity to help organize or finance a clean energy demonstration project in a rural or remote area? Seize that opportunity with the Energizing Rural Communities Prize.

Start Competing