Press Release: Gov. Evers Announces Wisconsin has been Selected by U.S. Department of Energy for Rural Clean Energy Demonstrations 

Office of Governor Tony Evers
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 27, 2024
Gov. Evers Announces Wisconsin has been Selected by U.S. Department of Energy for Rural Clean Energy Demonstrations 
Collaborative partnerships between local and Tribal government and industry will bring economic and clean energy benefits to rural Wisconsin communities
MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today announced that the Evers Administration’s Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy (OSCE) has been selected by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to move onto the award negotiation stage for the federal department’s Energy Improvement in Rural or Remote Areas program. President Joe Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law included $1 billion in funding for this program aimed at modernizing electric generation facilities, addressing high electricity costs in rural areas, and bolstering economic opportunity in rural areas. The state’s application is one of 17 awards selected nationwide, marking the first step toward securing federal funding for the OSCE’s Resilience and Prosperity in Rural Northern Wisconsin program.

“Investing in renewable energy and creating clean energy jobs in rural areas sets us up for the future, and getting recognition from our federal partners shows we’re on the right track,” said Gov. Evers. “We have a great team of experts collaborating on this effort, and I’m excited that we’re working together to bring clean energy access to parts of our state that need it most.”

The Resilience and Prosperity in Rural Northern Wisconsin program plans to support clean energy access in 28 rural communities statewide, developing projects that can serve as replicable models to boost energy resilience, clean energy deployment, and green jobs for rural communities across the state.

Led by the OSCE, in collaboration with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation’s (WEDC) Office of Rural Prosperity, the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, and Bayfield County, the program will work with utility and renewable partners to install microgrids throughout Bayfield County and on Tribal lands. OSCE also aims to deploy solar power, battery storage, and smart controls to enable islanding and electric vehicle charging stations. This program will also promote local workforce development, particularly for construction and permanent project jobs, create avenues for meaningful public engagement, provide clean energy education to residents, and convert heavy-duty snowplows from diesel to compressed natural gas, a lower-emission fuel.

“Making the transition to green jobs and clean energy is a team effort, and this project brings together 20 community organizations from higher education, local government, labor unions, and utilities to make this program possible,” said Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld. “Working together, our goal is to support sustainable clean energy jobs and skills training in rural Wisconsin, as well as supporting critical services in Tribal and rural communities.”

“WEDC is committed to promoting sustainability throughout Wisconsin,” said WEDC Secretary and CEO Missy Hughes. “This potential grant from DOE could enable some of our state’s smallest communities to become leaders in developing and implementing sustainable energy technologies to move Wisconsin forward.”

The Red Cliff Reservation and communities of Bayfield County are located on the northernmost point of Wisconsin along the shores of Lake Superior. This area is at disproportionate risk for climate change effects due to increased lake-enhanced severe weather events. If Wisconsin is ultimately selected, this grant will offer an unprecedented opportunity to build resiliency for Wisconsin’s upper rural communities that have traditionally been left behind due to challenges associated with limited financial resources, small population centers, and remote locations.

The Resilience and Prosperity in Rural Northern Wisconsin program also directly addresses priorities identified in Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Plan and the Rural Voices Report on Rural Prosperity, including investing in renewable energy projects, supporting sustainable green energy jobs in rural Wisconsin, and mitigating economic hardships in transitioning our workforce from fossil fuels to renewable energy jobs.
An online version of this release is available here.