The Maryland Energy Administration has launched its annual OPEN Energy Program, which provides opportunities to submit applications for innovative energy projects and initiatives that are outside of the agency’s established suite of programs.

The MEA estimates that the funding level for the Program, which is in its third year of operation, will be $3.5 million in fiscal year 2024.

Many of the Program’s projects help generate new opportunities for clean energy technologies, especially those that are nearing commercialization. The OPEN Energy Program’s grants also encourage energy and workforce development, and help recipients become more productive and competitive by implementing greenhouse gas-mitigating measures.

Proposals that closely align with state goals may be funded if favorably reviewed. Because full proposal development can be a long process, MEA challenges interested entities to provide short initial proposals, including an application and concept paper. A team from the agency will review the concept papers and provide feedback or request clarifying information.

An example of a successful project is the Evergreen Heritage Center Foundation, in Allegany County, which installed a solar photovoltaic system to power its nonprofit historic and environmental education facility. Evergreen leverages this system to involve K-12 students and others on the technical aspects of solar as part of its science, technology, engineering and math educational efforts in a rural setting where these technologies are not as widely deployed.

In previous years, the program helped move forward several projects, including a $1 million award to the Regional Manufacturing Institute to educate manufacturing organizations on opportunities to reduce energy consumption, adopt clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, resulting in greater competitiveness and productivity.

Full details on the program are included in the fiscal 2024 Funding Opportunity Announcement. To be considered for funding, it is strongly suggested that proposals be submitted before Jan. 31, 2024.