HILO, Hawaii, Sept. 5, 2023 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is awarding $266 million in loans and grants to agriculture producers and rural small businesses to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements that will lower their energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resilience of their operation. This funding is made possible in part by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s largest-ever investment in combatting the climate crisis.
“Creating opportunity for rural communities means investing in farmers, ranchers, and small businesses,” Secretary Vilsack said. “A key pillar of Bidenomics, President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is ensuring our producers and business owners are not only a part of the clean energy economy but are directly benefitting from it. These once-in-a-generation investments in renewable energy, like wind and solar, and energy efficient technologies create new markets and deliver real cost savings for our small and mid-sized agricultural operations and Main Street businesses, building and keeping wealth in rural America.”
According to Hawaii/Western Pacific State Director Chris Kanazawa, investing in clean energy is essential. “We are proud to help our local rural businesses thrive with energy solutions that are vital to their operations and that safeguard our environment,” said Kanazawa. “It’s very important for Hawaii and our Western Pacific neighbors to benefit from our renewable energy program,” he concluded.
USDA is investing $266 million in 1,334 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in 47 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. The Department is awarding the loans and grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), including funding from the landmark Inflation Reduction Act.
Since December 2022, USDA has made up to $1.3 billion available in REAP funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. Eligible applicants include rural small business owners and agricultural producers. The program is part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is working to ensure that 40 percent of the benefits of certain federal investments reach communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.
The funding announced today is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, a key pillar of Bidenomics, to grow the American economy from the middle-out and bottom up – from rebuilding our nation’s infrastructure, to driving over $500 billion in private sector manufacturing and clean energy investments in the United States, to creating good-paying jobs and building a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make our communities more resilient.
Six recipients in Hawaii and two in Guam are to receive a total of $2,847,077 in USDA Rural Development REAP funding.
- In Hawaii, $1 Million will be used to retrofit 16 660 kW Vestas Model V47 wind turbines at the Hawi Renewable Development wind-power generation site. The project annually is expected to generate 34,317,000 kWh per year and replace the business's consumption of fossil fuels.
- Also in Hawaii, $421,966 will be used to assist Boteilho Hawaii Enterprises Inc. with a 250.800 kW DC photovoltaic solar system by providing 69.51 percent of their electricity consumption. The system will assist the dairy's operation with the installation of a modern 50 units rotary milking parlor and refrigerated storage.
- In Guam, $162,000 will be used to construct and install a 128.76 kilowatt (kW) solar array in two buildings owned by Frontier (Guam) Corporation, doing business as JK Tile. The system will generate 241,633 kilowatt hours (kWh), which will replace 105 percent of the current usage.
USDA is making awards in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Guam and Puerto Rico.
The Department expects to make additional awards in the coming months.
USDA continues to accept applications and will hold funding competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. The funding includes $144.5 million for underutilized renewable energy technologies. For additional information on application deadlines and submission details, see page 19239 of the March 31 Federal Register.
Background: Inflation Reduction Act
As a core pillar of Bidenomics and the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Inflation Reduction Act makes the largest investment in climate action in history and is lowering energy costs, bringing opportunity to communities across America and tackling the climate crisis through investments in agriculture, forest restoration, and rural communities.
The Biden-Harris Administration championed the Inflation Reduction Act to help provide new funding and unprecedented incentives to expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs and spur economic growth. It is the largest single investment in rural electrification since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.
Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Administration is delivering on its promise to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across America.
It provides funding to USDA Rural Development to help eligible organizations invest in renewable energy infrastructure and zero-emission systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
It will boost the long-term resiliency, reliability and affordability of rural electric systems. It will help families save money on utility bills, and it will expand rural opportunities in the clean- energy economy.
For more information on the Inflation Reduction Act, visit: www.rd.usda.gov/inflation-reduction-act.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer, and lender.