DOE Signals Microgrid Funding Opportunity for Remote, Underserved Communities

The Department of Energy (DOE) has published a notice of intent (NOI) on a possible upcoming funding opportunity for microgrids for underserved and Indigenous communities in remote and islanded regions of the United States.

The NOI (No. DE-FOA-0002933), issued by the DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) on behalf of the DOE Office of Electricity, is for informational purposes only, and the DOE said it is “not seeking comments on the information in this NOI at this time,” but merely publishing the notice so interested parties are aware of the DOE’s “intention to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) in the near future.”

If the FOA is released, approximately $9.1 million in federal funds is expected to be available for awarding between six and eight new agreements for projects that would have a maximum duration of two years. The DOE said it intends to make the FOA available by the end of January.

The DOE anticipates that the planned FOA would include the following areas of interest:

  • modular microgrid systems with standardized control/communication functionalities for a range of system sizes and renewable contributions,
  • multi-port medium voltage direct current converter research and development for integration of microgrids and clean energy, and
  • regional initiatives to support microgrid deployments within underserved and indigenous communities.

The DOE anticipates making three or four awards under the first category, one under the second, and two or three under the third category and contributing up to $1.25 million, $2 million, and $700,000, respectively, for each award in each of the three categories.

To achieve the intended objectives, the DOE said each proposed microgrid project should range from 100 kilowatts (kW) to 10 megawatts (MW) of aggregated capacity and improve reliability, resilience, decarbonization, and affordability.

For the purposes of the FOA, the DOE defines “underserved communities” as low-income, energy-burdened populations in which 30 percent of the community is classified as low income and has median spending of household income on energy that is equal or greater than 6 percent.

If the FOA is released, the DOE will require concept papers from the applicants. Applicants whose concept papers are approved by the DOE will be invited to submit a full funding application; others will be discouraged from submitting a funding application.

The DOE stressed that concept papers “are not being requested under this NOI.”