In July 2023, NASEO was announced as one of the winners of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations’ Energizing Rural Communities Prize for a proposal to facilitate an innovative partnership between the Mississippi Development Authority Energy and Natural Resources Division (the State Energy Office) and the Office of Broadband Expansion and Accessibility of Mississippi. This intrastate collaboration will support New Albany Gas, Light and Water, a Mississippi-based rural utility, in planning for the future deployment of broadband-dependent clean energy projects, such as a solar and storage microgrid, that will improve energy access and reliability in their service territory. The project team will leverage the expertise of the Energy Office and Broadband Office and identify community engagement strategies that deepen existing relationships with rural communities and utilities through in person and virtual meetings. These meetings will serve to identify energy access issues and needs and allow for an open and actionable dialogue between state agencies, rural utilities, and community members. The project will also involve developing a microgrid feasibility study, conducting recurring partnership impact assessments, and summarizing project takeaways to encourage other states to replicate this partnership approach. Learn about how NASEO and other prize winners plan to accelerate energy improvements in rural areas here.