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On Earth Day, USDA Invests $54 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural North Carolina

Name
Robert Kerns
City
Raleigh
Release Date
Apr 22, 2022

RALEIGH, N.C., April 22, 2022 – In honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $54 million in rural North Carolina.

These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people living in rural communities across the Tar Heel State.

Today’s announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, during which Biden Administration officials are traveling to dozens of rural communities to talk about the impact of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, as well as President Biden’s broader commitment to ensure federal resources reach all communities in rural America.

“People in rural America and across the world are experiencing the impacts of climate change in many ways. This includes more severe droughts, more frequent wildfires, and more destructive and life-threatening storms,” Vilsack said. “When we invest in infrastructure in rural communities, we are investing in our planet, and we’re also investing in the peace of mind families will have when kids are drinking clean and safe tap water in their homes. USDA is proud to celebrate Earth Day and the many ways we are addressing climate change and investing in locally-driven solutions to bring safe water and renewable energy to people in rural areas everywhere.”

USDA Rural Development is taking several actions to mitigate the impacts of climate change in rural communities.

Advancing Equity in Rural Communities

USDA Rural Development is prioritizing projects that advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s key priorities of investing in rural communities to ensure people have equitable access to critical resources and to combat the climate crisis. Investments in these communities will make an impact for generations to come.

Clean Energy Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Improvements

USDA is investing $54 million in renewable energy infrastructure in North Carolina to help agricultural producers, rural small business owners and residents lower energy costs and make energy-efficiency improvements. The Department is making the investments under the Electric Loan Program and the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

Through REAP, the Department is helping rural businesses and agricultural producers get access to clean energy, while reducing their carbon footprint to make their business operations more cost-effective.

For example:

  • Land of Sky Regional Council will use a $88.5 thousand REAP grant to conduct 45 energy audits for rural small businesses and agricultural producers throughout the state. These audits will provide analysis to make energy-efficiency improvements to these operations.  
     
  • Miller’s Chapel Solar LLC will use a $4 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 6 mega-watt solar system. The system is estimated to produce 10 million kilo-watt in its first year, which is enough electricity to power 927 homes in Goldsboro. 
     
  • Mule Farm Solar LLC will use a $2 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 2 mega-watt solar system. The system is estimated to produce 4.3 million kilo-watt hours in its first year, which is enough electricity to power 401 homes in Benson.
     
  • Pine Valley Solar LLC will use a $4.8 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 6 mega solar system. The system is estimated to produce 9 million kilo-watt hours in its first year, which is enough electricity to power 910 homes in West End. 
     
  • Saw Solar LLC will use a $6 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 6 mega-watt solar system. The system is estimated to produce 11 million kilo-watt hours in its first year, which is enough electricity to power 1,069 homes in China Grove.
     
  • Tri-County EMC will use a $32 million REAP loan to connect two thousand consumers, upgrade 206 miles of line and refurbish headquarter facilities in Dudley. Tri-County  provides service to an average of 25 thousand customers across two thousand miles in Duplin, Johnston, Jones, Lenoir, Sampson, Wayne and Wilson counties.
     
  • Yanceyville Farm LLC will use a $1.7 million REAP loan to refinance and partially upgrade an existing six megawatt ground mounted solar facility in Caswell County.
     

“These investments are an example of USDA’s commitment to financing rural infrastructure that embraces renewable energy and supports America’s path to energy independence,” said State Director Reginald Speight. “Projects financed under the REAP program can help reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.”
 

Background: Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour
 

Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA and its federal partners in the Infrastructure Implementation Task Force are working with rural communities to deliver on the promise of support for rural America.

The Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from key rural communities. These visits will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs.

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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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