Co-op Resources

Supporting co-ops in leveraging unprecedented federal funding

The USDA’s $9.7 billion Empowering Rural America (New ERA) Program is the largest investment by the federal government in rural electric cooperatives (co-ops) in nearly a century. New ERA can help co-ops and their members across the country resolve financial constraints and unlock investments that lower costs, improve system resilience and reliability, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Alongside other new federal programs, including direct pay clean energy tax credits and the USDA’s Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, co-ops can use New ERA as a catalyst for improving the lives of their members and the economic vitality of rural communities.

Our next webinar will be held on August 2. More information on that event can be found below.

The Co-op Federal Funding Calculator

RMI’s Co-op Federal Funding Calculator was built to support co-ops to make the best use of available incentives and deliver the full benefits of clean energy projects for their members.

This open access Excel tool allows users to explore how different combinations of grants, loans, and tax credits can create savings for co-op members. The tool offers flexibility to compare different resource portfolios and different financing scenarios, all while factoring in a co-op’s unique financial circumstance. The tool can model individual assets or a portfolio of assets.

Instructions can be found on the “Inputs” worksheet. For support, please reach out to Sam Mardell at

Download The Tool Watch A Tutorial

Thank you for downloading this tool!

Your download should start automatically. Please click here to manually start the download.

If you’d like to stay informed with the latest RMI news and insights, sign up for our weekly e-newsletter here.

Disclaimer of Warranty, Accuracy and Use of Data. The data and other information provided here are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to constitute legal, tax, or financial advice. Before making any final decisions or implementing any financial strategy, please obtain additional information and advice from your accountant or other financial advisers who are fully aware of your specific situation.  RMI does not accept any liability for damages in using the data. Although the data found here, some of which is produced and sourced from third-party sources, is believed to be reliable, no warranty express or implied is made regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability, and utility of the data.  This disclaimer applies to both isolated and aggregated uses of the data. RMI provides this data on an “AS IS” basis. All warranties of any kind, express or implied, including but not limited to the implied warranties of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, freedom from contamination become out of date. Users should be aware of these periodic changes, and it is recommended that careful attention be paid to any data and information found here. If any errors or omissions are identified, please report them to RMI.

Virtual bootcamps to support competitive New ERA applications

In June, RMI began hosting a series of virtual trainings to help generation and transmission (G&T) and distribution cooperatives advance their New ERA Letters of Intent before the September 15 deadline. We invited co-op leadership, staff, board members, and consultants to attend any or all of the free sessions, and have made recordings of the bootcamps and their presentations available below.

Our next webinar will be held on August 2. More information on that event can be found below.

Bootcamp 1: Maximizing the Financial Opportunity of the New ERA Program

This training outlines how co-ops can maximize a New ERA award by requesting a grant, loan, loan modification, or loan/grant combination that best matches their goals and financial situation. The training also covers how complementary federal programs can support a New ERA award to help meet members' needs in the short and long term. Topics include:

  • Selecting a combination of grants, loans, and loan modifications to create a competitive Letter of Intent that maximizes opportunities for investments in new generation assets and other eligible activities
  • Business model options for new generation assets, including direct ownership and power purchase agreements, benefits of the Investment Tax Credit and the Production Tax Credit, and implications for applicant balance sheets and member rates
  • Place-based bonuses for New ERA funds and clean energy tax credits
  • Financial benefits for using complementary or stackable federal funding opportunities, including the direct pay clean energy tax credits, the USDA’s Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, and DOE’s Energy Infrastructure Reinvestment (EIR) program
Watch a Recording of the Presentation

Bootcamp 2: Defining an Ambitious and Affordable New ERA Plan

This session dives into the value proposition for different types of eligible investments and activities for a co-op system and their role within a competitive Letter of Intent, including estimations of achievable greenhouse gas reductions. Examples we discuss during this session include:

  • Large-scale renewable energy deployment, including the roles for battery storage, transmission, and demand-side investments in a system with higher renewable energy generation
  • The benefits of coordination between G&Ts and distribution co-ops in pursuing distributed energy, virtual power plants, and energy efficiency projects that can improve resiliency and reduce member costs
  • Refinancing stranded costs, focusing on reinvestment requirements for, possibilities for, and restrictions on leveraging DOE funding as a complement to New ERA
  • Fossil-fuel generation retrofits to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including restrictions in the uses of New ERA funds
Watch a Recording of the Presentation

charging car over blurred background of family entering home

Virtual Power Plants for Co-ops Workshop

Virtual Power Plants (VPPs) are a cost-effective tool for advancing key grid objectives like reliability, affordability, and decarbonization. In a nutshell, VPPs are grid-integrated systems of distributed energy resources such as batteries, electric vehicles, smart thermostats, water heaters, and other connected devices. This workshop explores how co-ops can leverage federal funding, such as the New ERA program, to bring the benefits of VPPs to their members. It was hosted by RMI and VP3 and is split into two parts:

Part 1: What are VPPs and why are they helpful to co-ops?
  • Learn about VPP opportunities and challenges from other cooperative leaders including Bryan Hannegan from Holy Cross Energy and Cyril Brunner from Vermont Electric Cooperative
Part 2: Leveraging New ERA and Federal Funding for VPPs*
  • Learn about the benefits and considerations for new and existing federal funding opportunities that can advance VPP projects
Watch a Recording of the Presentation*Please note, New ERA information is accurate as of August 2, 2023; guidance has been updated, and the latest can be found on the New ERA FAQ page. (IRA FAQs | Rural Development (