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New round of funding available for rural communities
Kirill Abbakumov   on Monday, October 16, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

On October 12, 2017, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announced the availability of up to $10 million in FY2017 and application deadlines for competitive grants to assist communities with extremely high energy costs through the Assistance to High Energy Cost Rural Communities Program.

This program was established in 2000 to provide assistance for communities most challenged by extremely high energy costs, defined by statute as average residential home energy expenditures that are 275% or more of the national average. This statutory threshold for eligibility is high and has the result of limiting the availability of this program to extremely high cost and typically remote areas.

The purpose of this program is to provide financial assistance for a broad range of energy facilities, equipment and related activities to offset the impact of extremely high home energy costs on eligible communities. The grants help communities provide basic energy needs by financing energy infrastructure supporting rural prosperity and job creation.

Grant funds may not be used to pay utility bills or to purchase fuel. Nor may grant funds be used for education and outreach except for training that is directly related to energy facilities financed in all or part by this program. Upgrades to existing facilities are also eligible. Grant projects under this program must serve an eligible community and not be for the primary benefit of an individual applicant, household, or business.

The deadline for applications is December 11, 2017. More information can be found on the Federal Register.