LINCOLN, Neb., April 22, 2021 – Today, in honor of Earth Day 2021, Acting State Director for Rural Development in Nebraska Kim Martini announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $3.3 million in critical infrastructure that will help rural Nebraskan communities build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship. USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.
“Investments in accessible and modern climate-smart infrastructure in rural communities, helps reduce our carbon footprint as a whole,” Martini said. “The investments we are announcing today demonstrate USDA’s commitment to leveraging rural partnerships for the betterment of our environmental future.”
Today’s investments are in coordination with Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson’s nationwide announcement that USDA is investing $487 million for projects in 45 states:
Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure:
USDA is investing $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states, including $9.8 million for four projects in Nebraska. Through its Water and Environmental Programs, USDA funds vital water infrastructure that directly benefits the health, economic vitality and environment of rural America.
For example, the Little Blue Natural Resources District, will use a $2.8 million loan and a $1 million grant to build a new well field northeast of the village of Powell. The well site will encompass five acres and contain five wells. Backup power also will be installed to ensure that service goes uninterrupted during an emergency. Funds also will be used to install 12.5 miles of transmission main and associated valves, fire hydrants, air releases and modern control system. All modernizations will improve water pressure and increase supply to this area and ensure cleaner rural water resources in the area and support a healthier environment for nearly 5,000 local residents.
In the village of Edison, the city will use a $613,000 grant to replace aging wastewater treatment plant with a new lagoon system. A new lift station and force main will also be installed. These modernizations will ensure that the village’s wastewater is fully contained and provide an environmentally safe method for disposal.
The city of Fairbury will use a $4.3 million loan to construct a new wellfield and transmission main in partnership with the Little Blue Natural Resources District. This interlocal project will help both entities to construct a new well field three miles east and three miles north of the village of Powell to supply water to both systems.
The village of Hayes Center will use a $691,000 loan and a $369,000 grant to replace aging distribution pipes, valves and fire hydrants. Additionally, funds will be used to replace the storage tank and provide modifications to existing wells. This project will help provide a safe water source and promote water conservation practices for years to come.
Renewable Energy in Rural Communities:
USDA is investing $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate, like the $68,500 for five projects in Nebrasksa.
For example, local hog farmer Duane Kosch will use a $12,659 grant to purchase and install a 24-kilowatt (kW) solar array. This project will save the farmer nearly $3,000 in annual electricity costs and will replace 70 percent of the electricity it uses each year, which is enough energy to power three homes.
In Howells, Neb., trucking LLC owner Maria Janata will use a $20,000 grant to purchase and install two, 35 kW solar arrays. This project will save the business nearly $8,000 in annual electricity costs and will replace 60 percent of the electricity it uses each year, which is enough energy to power nine homes.
Family farmer of Scotia, Neb., Maynard Schmidt will use a $9,425 grant to purchase and install two 23 kW ground-mounted solar arrays. This project will save the farmer more than $5,400 in annual electricity costs and will replace 85 percent of the electricity it uses each year, which is enough energy to power five homes.
Locally owned and operated ranch Bentz Valley Inc. will use a $8,174 grant to purchase and install two electric irrigation motors. This project will save the ranch nearly $3,500 in annual electricity costs and will replace 70 percent of the electricity it uses each year, which is enough energy to power 20 homes.
Cahoy’s General Store LLC will use an $18,242 grant to purchase and install new LED lighting, two ZeroZone coolers and one ZeroZone freezer, and a more efficient compressor. This project will save the grocery store $14,120 in annual electricity costs and will replace 60 percent of the electricity it uses each year, which is enough energy to power 12 homes.
USDA officials visited Ord, Nebraska today to celebrate 70 percent in annual electrical savings for Scratchtown Brewing Company who received a nearly $15,000 REAP grant in 2020 to offset the costs of purchasing and installing a 24 kW rooftop solar array. Learn more here.
Rural Electric Infrastructure Upgrades:
USDA is investing $17.4 million in loans in New Mexico and South Dakota through the Electric Loan Program to build and improve rural electric infrastructure and connect residents to affordable and dependable power. The Electric Loan Program brings efficient, modern electric infrastructure to rural communities and finances wind, solar, natural gas and clean energy production. The program also provides loans to electric utilities to support vegetation management, which helps prevent forest fires.
For example, in South Dakota, Charles Mix Electric will use an $8.6 million loan to build 84 miles of electric line and construct a headquarters facility. Charles Mix Electric serves approximately 2,500 rural consumers over 1,310 miles of line.
An example of a previously funded project in Nebraska includes a $35,381,000 loan for N.W. Electric Power Cooperative to better its overall electric transmission system for more than 74,000 end retail users in northwest Missouri, southwest Iowa, and southeast Nebraska. Learn more here.
USDA is investing $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year. This will give consumers more environmentally friendly fuel choices when they fill-up at the pump. In Nebraska, USDA is announcing $1.2 million in investments for two projects.
For example, Simrah Inc. dba First Stop will use a $92,998 grant to replace six dispensers and two storage tanks at a fueling station in Atkinson. The infrastructure supported by this investment will expand the use of renewable fuels by approximately 446,069 gallons per year.
Bosselman Pump & Pantry Inc. will use a $1.1 million grant to replace 75 dispensers and seven storage tanks at 11 fueling stations, as well as install 16 new dispensers at one fueling station. Station locations impacted by the grant include: Grand Island, Kearney, Gretna, Doniphan, Burwell, Gordon, Alma and Jackson. The infrastructure supported by this investment will expand the use of renewable fuels by approximately 8.4 million gallons per year.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. In the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, 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.
Interested parties should visit www.rd.usda.gov/ne or contact their local USDA Rural Development office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility details. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.