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Biden-Harris Administration Awards more than $27 Million in Rural Energy Investments for Wisconsin

Tegan Griffith
Release Date

ROTHSCHILD, Wisc., June 13, 2024 – Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced more than $27 million in USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) investments bolstering 15 rural Wisconsin businesses’ efforts to adapt or expand clean energy use.

The announcement was made by White House Domestic Policy Advisor Neera Tanden, USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Lillian Salerno, and Wisconsin Rural Development State Director Julie Lassa at the Department’s Rural Partners Network Progress Through Action Workshop.

“President Biden is laser focused on creating jobs, lowering costs, and ensuring Americans living in rural communities have access to economic opportunity right here at home,” said Tanden. “The Rural Energy for America Program awards announced today will invest directly in Wisconsin farmers and small business owners, helping them lower their energy costs.”

Among the REAP projects announced are several solar arrays, an anaerobic digester, and energy-efficiency equipment upgrades for a manufacturing facility and agricultural producer. For example:

  • In Polk County, Osceola Auto Body will use its $95,700 REAP grant to install a solar array expected to save about $8,000 annually in energy costs. The array will replace more than 87,100 kilowatt hours – 54 percent – of the business’s annual energy use. Osceola Auto Body has served the region’s drivers for nearly half a century.
  • In Fond du Lac County, Abel Project LLC will use a combined $26 million REAP loan and grant to build and operate a dairy anaerobic digester, capturing and converting biomethane to natural gas on site. The converted gas will supply local utilities, and the digester operation is expected to create eight jobs. This REAP investment is being partnered with a nearly $2.2 million USDA Rural Development Business and Industry loan guarantee.
  • In Clark and Marathon counties, Harold Christensen, Jr. will use a $76,517 REAP grant to install a new, energy-efficient grain dryer at his Abbotsford-based farming operation. This modern equipment is expected to save Christensen more than $4,500 annually in energy costs. That’s about 156,400 kilowatt hours of electricity a year; 20 percent of the farm operation’s annual energy use.

Since fiscal year 2021, USDA Rural Development in Wisconsin has invested more than $20.7 million through REAP in 196 renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements that will help rural business owners lower energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resiliency of their operations.

USDA will accept REAP applications through September 30, 2024. Funding includes a dedicated set-aside for underutilized renewable energy technologies. For additional information on application submissions and deadlines, see page 19239 of the March 31 Federal Register.

Background: Rural Partners Network

Launched in April 2022 and expanded the following November, RPN is now active in 10 states and Puerto Rico. In Wisconsin, there are five active Community Networks:

  1. Northern Wisconsin – serving Ashland, Iron, and Price counties
  2. Greater Menominee – serving Menominee County
  3. Forest County
  4. Northwestern Wisconsin – serving Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Pepin, and Trempealeau counties
  5. Adams County Visionary

Community networks are supported by full-time USDA staff, which provide technical assistance based on a community’s needs, helping them navigate federal programs, build relationships, and identify and apply for funding. In addition to USDA employees, staff from 23 other federal agencies and commissions are dedicated to making resources across the government easier for people in rural communities to access.

Co-led by the White House Domestic Policy Council and USDA, The Rural Prosperity Interagency Policy Council advises the RPN program and ensures rural voices are heard and reflected in national policies that will benefit all people in rural communities.

Since RPN’s launch, USDA has provided more than $800 million to fund a variety of projects in RPN communities.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.