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Report | 2024

RMI’s Community Benefits Catalog

Examples of meaningful local benefits to include in federally funded energy projects

By Kristine Chan-LizardoZach ClaytonDavid Valdes
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Many federal programs now require applicants to develop Community Benefit Plans, or CBPs. These CBPs are a tool for supporting project developers in ensuring that communities, particularly those historically harmed by energy infrastructure projects, equitably benefit from federal grants and loans. For many applicants and host communities, the development of a CBP is a new process to navigate.

RMI’s Community Benefits Catalog connects community benefit examples both to federal funding program criteria and to stakeholder priorities. The searchable catalog allows users to find which types of benefits might meet federal policy guidelines from DOE and USDA and that also address particular community concerns.

Current funding awardees are in active negotiations about the parameters of CBP implementation, and future funding applicants are working to decipher what these new CBP requirements entail. The Community Benefits Catalog supports these efforts by showing where existing community benefits serve as precedents for advancing energy equity and justice. The catalog helps applicants and community leaders envision what is both possible and meaningful to accomplish within the constraints of federal program requirements and timelines.

How to use the Benefits Catalog

Stakeholders can search for community benefit examples according to priorities such as meaningful engagement or energy resilience. In all, we defined 15 categories of stakeholder priorities that capture common concerns.

To help applicants and stakeholders decide together what types of benefits can address concerns and then design how those benefits could be implemented, we provide at least one “real-life” example for each stakeholder priority in the catalog.  These examples were gathered by:

  • examining successful proposals to the Department of Energy’s Grid Resilience and Innovation Partnerships funding opportunity, whose Round 1 awardees were announced in October 2023; and from
  • researching examples of community benefits offered in recent projects by utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and energy project developers.

Additionally, along with searching by stakeholder priority, applicants can use the catalog to identify which DOE and USDA funding criteria these real-life examples might satisfy.

The time is now to make the most of these opportunities.

This moment of focus on Community Benefit Plans means now is the time to make community benefit discussions a central part of the clean energy transition. Resources like the Community Benefits Catalog can help applicants and communities align on how they want to see the next wave of energy infrastructure deployed.