What’s RMUC and How Can Energy Organizations Get Involved?
What’s RMUC and How Can Energy Organizations Get Involved?

By: Joseph Phelan, Grants Development Consultant (Broadband & Utilities)

When the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law went into effect, the administration placed an emphasis on energy. Since then, various funding has been introduced to help utility companies and organizations in the pursuit of the net-zero carbon economy by 2050 goal. One specific program, the Rural and Municipal Utility Advanced Cybersecurity Grant and Technical Assistance Program, otherwise known as RMUC, received $250 million to disperse to various entities.

Late last year, the Department of Energy released a Request for Information for the general public’s input on what to do with the funding, who could benefit from it, and what kind of resources are most needed for the energy sector. This solicitation provided an opportunity for the utility sector to answer and discuss the key questions centering on utilities when it comes to cybersecurity. A section of the RFI asked questions about utilities serving military installations. Another dealt with the partnerships that utilities have with manufacturers, vendors, service providers, public agencies, labor unions, and other key stakeholders. The final piece of the RFI brought attention to the role that Equity, Environmental, and Energy Justice should play.

The first funding mechanism from that RFI is currently underway as nearly $9 million is available for electric cooperatives, municipally owned electric utilities, and small investor-owned utilities to boost their cybersecurity resources. There are parameters in place for military utilities to receive funding under this program.

There are three phrases to this specific program:

  • Commitment, where up to 55 organizations can receive up to $50,000
  • Planning, among organizations who received Commitment funding will compete for up to $50,000
  • Implementation, among organizations who receive Planning funding will compete for up to $100,000

The most an organization can receive is $200,000 under this initiative.

The Commitment phase, which has a November 29, 2023, deadline, paves the way for winning utilities to receive cash prizes and technical assistance based on their commitment to improving their utility’s cybersecurity posture through investments in cybersecurity technologies, staff training, and improvements to governance processes. Winners will be announced in March 2024.

Phase 2, or the Planning Phase, will see utilities working with technical assistance providers to complete system assessments, identify areas for training, understand potential risks and solutions, and draft a roadmap for implementation. Winners will be announced in October 2024.

The final phase, Implementation, will incorporate the progress of implementing a cybersecurity roadmap with those awards being announced in March 2025.

Each stage will require the utility to write a narrative describing the organization’s desire for an increased cybersecurity posture.

An additional $241 million is available under RMUC, and recently the organization announced that a competitive FOA will be released later this calendar year. Interested applicants should sign up for updates by emailing  CESER.rmuc@hq.doe.gov.