Rural Energy Startup Program

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The Rural Energy Startup Program (RESP) is funded by the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) and​ supports communities taking initial steps to reduce energy use, reduce fossil fuel emissions, and improve energy efficiency.  

To be informed of program developments and opportunities to participate, subscribe to docket 9​714-FG-2023 using EZ e-​Subscri​be. ​​​

​Who is eligible to apply ​

To be eligible, applicants must be​:

  • A unit of local government (city, village, town, county) that was not eligible to receive a direct allocation from Department of Energy (DOE) (see Resources for Applicants below)
  • ​​Considered rural for the purposes of this program: 
    • Rural municipal zip codes are identified as those within “any area of a State not in a city or town that has a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants, not in the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants, and excluding certain populations pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 1991(a)(13)(H) and (I).” OEI has aligned its definition of rural with that use in USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program and the Focus on Energy program’s rural bonus incentives.​
    • Rural counties are identified by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) using census data to establish a range of rural and urban classifications known as Rural-Urban Continuum (RUC) codes, with RUC of 4 to 9 considered rural. USDA’s Economic Research Service​ presents this information visually for Wisconsin by county.​
  • To be given priority, applicants may:​

​​Additional Grant Details
Currently accepting​​ applications

The Office of Energy Innovation (OEI) opened the inaugural grant round on November 30, 2023. 

The application period is closed as of 1:30 PM CT on March 29, 2024.​​

​Matching funds required
Docket Number

EZ e-​Subscribe​​

​​Contact information​​​

PSC Grants System

To apply for a PSC administered grant, applicants must submit an application using the PSC Grants System. Use the application material below for details on grant eligibility, instructions on application responses, and required documentation when submitting an application in the PSC Grants System.

Types of Eligible Activities 

Applicants must demonstrate that their projects fall into one of the following eligible activities. Grant awardees will be expected to use U.S. DOE’s EECBG Blueprints specific to these activities to guide their project implementation (see Resources section below). 

  • Comprehensive Energy Planning: Evaluate current energy use and sources, determine potential for generating energy locally, and create ​goals for energy savings and generation.  
  • Renewable Resource Planning: Assess renewable resource potential, set a collective vision with stakeholders for optimal renewable energy deployment, and create an action plan for formal adoption and implementation.  
  • Energy Audits and Building Upgrades: Identify potential energy saving opportunities in buildings and the technical and financial information (such as upfront costs, ongoing costs, projected energy savings, return on investment) in order to evaluate and approve energy efficiency, electrification, and grid interactivity retrofits. Additionally, energy efficiency projects associated with a proposed energy audit, an existing energy audit, or a ​comprehensive energy plan are also eligible for funding. ​​​

Resources for RESP Grant Award Recipient​s

Onboarding Materials for Grant​ Awardees 

RESP Grant Recipients – All reports are to be filed through Grants Management System​

Past Application ​Materials​​

The following are the materials required to apply for the RESP​:


  • ​2023 Rural Energy Start Up Program ​Application Instructions
    Thursday, December 14, 2023​ from 10:00 to 11:30 AM 
  • ​Energy Funding for Wisconsin Rural Communities: Choosing the Right OEI Grant Program
    TuesdayJanuary 9, 2024 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM

Resources for Grant Applicant​s


​U.S. DOE EECBG Blueprints serve as a step-by-step guide with tools and resources to support energy project implementation:

​O​EI Map​

​The OEI Map provides applicants with relevant information as they prepare OEI Grant Applications. The available map layers include: ​

RESP Specific Layers:

  • Disadvantaged and Tribal Communities​
  • W​isconsin Rural Counties and Zip Codes​​
Additional Available Layers: 
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) National Risk Index
  • Electric Utility Service Territories
  • Municipal and County ​Boundaries​

​​​Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool

The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST) Map can be used to provide applicants a visual, mapped representation of the project location highlighting the areas that will benefit from the proposed project. Applicants may also use the CEJST map as a resource for identifying census tracts benefitting from project implementation.​

​​​Energy Planning Consultant List

Focus on Energy maintains a list of consultants who have made themselves known to Focus on Energy as providing energy planning services. 

The OEI and Focus on Energy have not independently verified this list nor do they endorse those consultants listed. The OEI provides this list for the convenience of applicants only. Consultants who wish to be listed should  submit a trade ally application​ to Focus on Energy.​

​​U.S. DOE Formula-Eligible Applicants 

For reference, the entities that were eligible to receive a direct allocation from DOE, and therefore are not served by this program, are listed here: EECBG Program Formula Grant Application Hub | Department of Energy.

Formula-eligible applicants can find more information on applying for formula funding by visiting: PSC Federal Funding for Energy Programs ( 

RESP Grant A​​wards 

Fiscal Year
Number of
DocketGrant Summary 
$ 1.45 Million
2023 Grant Awards

Questions about Curr​ent Grants or Additional Resources

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