U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Https

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

On Earth Day, USDA Invests More Than $16 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change in Rural Pennsylvania

Name
Daniel Blottenberger
City
Harrisburg
Release Date
Apr 22, 2022

11 Projects Will Help People in Equity Communities Access Clean Energy

Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, State Director for Rural Development Bob Morgan announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $16 million in 11 projects in rural Pennsylvania. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America.

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 frequently experience the impacts of climate change in many ways. This includes more severe droughts, more frequent wildfires, and more destructive and life-threatening storms,” Morgan said. “When we invest in infrastructure in rural communities, we invest in our planet. 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.”

Today, 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. 

For example, the projects in today’s announcement will help advance equity in rural communities, especially in those that have been socially vulnerable, distressed and underserved for far too long.

Clean Energy Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Improvements

USDA is investing nearly $200,000 in renewable energy infrastructure in Pennsylvania 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, Rural Development is helping 8 rural businesses and agricultural producers get access to clean energy, while reducing their carbon footprint to make their business operations more cost-effective. 

  • Saint Francis University in Cambria County received a REAP Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development grant of $100,000 to assist 28 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the state of Pennsylvania receive low-cost energy assessments aimed at reducing their energy costs over time. Funds will also be used to create marketing materials, which will be distributed to bring awareness to the program. This program strengthens American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements.
  • Bedford Reinforced Plastics Inc., in Bedford County received a grant of $9,200 to purchase and install LED lighting and HVAC units which include high efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems. Bedford Reinforced Plastics has been in business since 1974 manufacturing fiberglass reinforced plastic materials. This project is expected to save $27,120 per year and replace 62,803 kWh of electricity per year, which is enough electricity to power five homes. 
  • Re Farm Care LLC in Centre County received a grant of $18,009 to purchase and install a 35-kW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system. RE Farm Café is a farm-to-table restaurant that has been in business since 2018. Its goal is to enhance the quality of life for the community by offering an innovative opportunity to learn, participate, and experience realistic sustainable practices through a unique dining experience. The project is expected to save approximately $6,700 per year and will replace 42,552 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power 3 homes annually.
  • SJD Machining Inc. dba Pa Tool & Gauges in Crawford County received a grant of $8,079 to purchase and replace all the lighting throughout the facility with energy-efficient LED lighting. PTG, located in Meadville, Pennsylvania, specializes in manufacturing custom parts, molds, dies and fixtures for use in industries ranging from nuclear energy to agriculture. This project is expected to lower the company's energy use by 68 percent and save approximately $12,000 in electrical costs annually.
  • PDM Insurance Agency Inc. in Franklin County received a grant of $17,215 purchase and install a 23-kW solar photovoltaic system. The solar panels will be installed on the roof of a pole barn located on the property. This project is expected to save approximately $3,700 and replace 24,402 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power two homes annually.
  • Lincoln Caverns in Huntingdon County received a grant of $15,997 to purchase and install a 39-kW solar photovoltaic system. The solar panels will be installed on the roof of the Visitor Center. Lincoln Caverns Inc. has been giving educational underground tours since 1932. This project is expected to save approximately $5,100 per year and replace 39,847 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power three homes annually.
  • Wilmer N Zimmerman of Lancaster County received a $20,000 grant to purchase and install a 98-kW solar photovoltaic system. The solar panels will be installed on the roof of the building. Zimmerman's Custom Butcher Shop has been in business for 17 years. This project is expected to save approximately $9,000 per year and will replace 100,644 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power 9 homes annually.
  • Muddy Run Repair Inc. of Northumberland County received a grant of $8,000 to purchase and install a 36-kW solar photovoltaic system. The solar panels will be installed on the roof of the truck repair center, which has been in business for four years. This project is expected to save approximately $4,100 per year and replace 41,784 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power three homes annually.

Electric Programs

In Pennsylvania, REA Energy Cooperative Inc. will use a $16 million Electric Program loan to connect 635 customers and build and improve 186 miles of line. This loan includes $6.5 million in smart grid technologies, including 35 miles of overhead fiber. 

Infrastructure Improvements for Communities Hit by Severe Weather

USDA is investing $144,600 million to help rural communities in Pennsylvania hit by severe weather. The Department is making the investments under the Community Facilities Disaster Grants program.

The funds will help communities build back better by mitigating health risks and increasing access to safe, reliable drinking water and sanitary waste disposal services. Funds also will purchase emergency response equipment to help communities be better prepared and more resilient in the face of disaster.

  • The Borough of Briar Creek in Columbia County received a grant of $32,500 to install a headwall and inlet box. This is additional funding on the original proposed project to the existing storm water runoff that was deemed unable to handle excessive flows. The flooding also ends up effecting Rittenhouse Mill Road and other surrounding properties. The original project was approved in fiscal year 2021 based on a quote submitted, however, when the project was publicly bid, the bid came higher than the initial quote. The subsequent grant is needed to complete the project. These repairs will create safer roadways and mitigate hazardous conditions to nearby properties. 
  • Jordan Township in Lycoming County received a grant of $112,100 to purchase a 2022 dump truck with up fitting. The 2022 dump truck would allow the township to plow and maintain 28.64 miles of roads within the service area. The township currently owns a 1998 dump truck and a 1994 dump truck, which have both reached the end of their useful life. The new dump truck will allow the township to provide more reliable service to the community.  

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

If you'd like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

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