Backus, MN — In recognition of winning a 2019 Bush Prize for Community Innovation, this grant will advance the organization’s charitable mission to end energy poverty
Rural Renewal Energy Alliance (RREAL) wants to end energy poverty with pioneering, climate-appropriate solutions. The organization uses solar energy as a powerful tool to build the economic well-being and energy sovereignty of low-income communities and Native nations in rural areas.
From humble beginnings in an unheated garage in a small town in northern Minnesota, RREAL has grown into an innovative national model for rural communities that have high energy burdens but have been left out of the renewable energy economy. RREAL's approaches reduce inequality, build jobs and provide long-term, clean solutions for the environment.
In partnership with the Leech Lake Nation, RREAL delivered the first community solar installation to be formally integrated with the federal Energy Assistance Program. This community-owned asset provides solar assistance to qualified families, lowering their energy burden and freeing resources for basic needs. It also creates a clean alternative to conventional energy assistance and provides career pathways in the solar industry for tribal members. RREAL's ambitious Solar for Schools project creatively integrated site-based solar into multiple education facilities across northern Minnesota.
A catalyst in the national conversation about energy equity, RREAL continues to break down barriers so that low-income rural communities can benefit from solar solutions. RREAL is scaling its solar assistance locally, nationally, and even internationally in West Africa.