USDA & CEL Support Rural Schools

June 1, 2022

The Upshot

CEL won a grant through the Small Business Innovation Research program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

USDA Invests $1M in Rural and Community Development

The USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) recently awarded grants to eight small businesses, including CEL. The purpose of these grants is to develop new technology or use existing technology to improve life in rural America by addressing economic and social development issues or challenges. These early-stage innovation projects will work to achieve goals such as:

  • conceptualizing and commercializing new and existing technology, products, processes, and services that enhance efficiency and equity of public and private investments
  • building a diversified workforce
  • increasing resilience to natural and human disasters
  • reducing poverty and improving the economic vitality of rural communities

CEL was awarded this grant for its building automation technology, which makes smart energy management and decarbonization both accessible and affordable. With a target market of small-to-mid-sized commercial building owners, including schools, CEL's work benefits a cornerstone of many rural communities. These communities often have older building stock and are at the end of power distribution networks. This means that energy burden, power quality and outage duration tend to be worse for rural customers. Further, mitigating outages can have positive impacts in rural communities. For example, mitigating outages affecting refrigeration is key to reducing food spoilage and contamination in agricultural production. At the same time, many rural communities face the same ambitious decarbonization goals as larger cities without the same infrastructure and resources. This award will allow building managers in rural communities to use CEL's technology to make the changes needed to comply with ambitious decarbonization policies.

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