Basin Electric submits Letter of Interest for USDA New ERA Program funds

Basin Electric has submitted a Letter of Interest (LOI) to apply for funding through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Empowering Rural America (New ERA) Program. This program will distribute $9.7 billion to rural electric cooperatives in the form of grants or low interest financing to enable clean energy projects.

Projects funded by the New ERA program must be completed and verified by Sept. 30, 2031. Basin Electric would use the funding to invest in significant greenhouse gas-reducing measures, including the addition of zero-emission generation such as wind and solar projects, the mitigation of new fossil fuel generation development, and the expansion of interregional transmission capacity to enable future additional zero-emission generation.

“RUS will be evaluating our proposal along with other G&Ts (generation and transmission cooperatives) and they’ll get back to us sometime later this year. Upon a response, we’ll have 60 days to provide a formal application to the program, and in the interim, staff will be working on the inputs necessary to perform this,” said Benjamin Hertz, Basin Electric manager of Power Supply Planning. “These are incentives, grants, and low interest financing for clean energy projects that can be stacked on top of other government incentives, so the result can be very advantageous to rural electric cooperatives.”

Part of the application process is to compile a Community Benefit Plan. Chad Reisenauer, Basin Electric director of Community and Member Relations, said a cross-departmental team is developing a plan to determine Basin Electric’s course of action.

“The community benefits program is one area of scoring for the New ERA funds. There are four areas you can focus on: there’s a workforce development part of the program, there’s energy efficiency for end-use consumers, there’s a clean energy for agricultural program, and there’s a diversity and equality initiative, the Justice 40 initiative that’s also included. The benefits program can be any or all of those four programs,” Reisenauer said. “Currently we’re looking at internal programs that may fit those, as well as looking for external stakeholders that may fit within those four areas of focus.”

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