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On Earth Day, USDA Invests More Than $180,000 in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural Tennessee

Charron Culp
Release Date
Apr 22, 2022

NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 22, 2022 – Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America. They include funding for 165 projects to expand access to safe water and/or clean energy for people living in disadvantaged communities. Tennessee Rural Development State Director Arlisa Armstrong is pleased to announce investments for rural Tennessee businesses and communities.

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. This announcement also furthers the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which commits to delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. 

“Our commitment to rural Tennessee is vital to improving the functionality of water and wastewater infrastructure as well as providing renewable energy to strengthen our communities,” Armstrong said. “We are proud to celebrate Earth Day to show how we are investing in locally-driven solutions to expand access to safe water and renewable energy to help rural towns build back stronger and more equitably than ever before.”

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

Clean Energy Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Improvements

Tennessee is investing $109,242 in renewable energy infrastructure 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, Tennessee is helping seven rural businesses and agricultural producers get access to clean energy, while reducing their carbon footprint to make their business operations more cost-effective.

  • Advanced Labelworx Inc. will use a $20,000 REAP grant to make energy efficiency insulation improvements to their warehouse facility. Advanced Labelworx primarily engages in production of adhesives and labeling applications. This project is expected to save $3,808 per year, and save 4,572 kWh per year which is enough energy to power one home.
  • Riverbend Wholesale LLC will use a $7,000 REAP grant to assist with the installation of an 11.22kW (OC), 33 panel, roof-mounted solar PV system on a building in rural Bradley County. This project will provide energy savings for Riverbend Wholesale LLC, a small online sales packing business. This project is expected to generate 16,086 kWh per year which is enough to power two homes.
  • E3 Fitness LLC will use a $14,495 REAP grant to assist in replacing existing lighting for LED fixtures with occupancy controls and the existing HVAC units with higher SEER equipment. This project will save $11,853 and 472,259,396 BTUs per year, which is enough to power seven homes.
  • Rockwood Center will use a $14,511 REAP grant to replace old inefficient T8 lamps with newer, more energy efficient LED lighting technology. This project is expected to save $7,170.43 per year and save 69,888 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power six homes.
  • Service Tek Solutions will use a $19,999 REAP grant to purchase and install a 17.76-kilowatt solar array to power the office and operations center for their small information technology consulting business. This project will save $3,245 per year and is estimated to produce 23,313 kilowatt hours, which is enough energy to power two homes.
  • Picnic Tree Farm will use a $19,999 REAP grant to purchase and install a 17.76-kilowatt solar array for their daily livestock operations. This project will realize $2,652.36 savings per year and is estimated to produce 23,313 kilowatt hours, which is enough energy to power two homes.
  • Hillside Winery Inc. will use a $13,238 REAP grant to purchase and install an energy efficient Glyco Chiller Unit with increased capacity to cold stabilize and process juices. This project is expected to save $4,352.88 per year, which is enough energy to power three homes.

Infrastructure Improvements for Communities Hit by Severe Weather

Tennessee is investing $72,000 to help rural communities hit by severe weather. The funds will benefit people living in northern Greene County. The Department is making the investments under the Community Facilities Disaster Grants program and the Water and Waste Disposal Disaster Loan and Grant 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.

For example, in Tennessee, the town of Baileyton will use a $72,000 Community Facilities Disaster Grant to purchase law enforcement vehicles. These vehicles will enable the town’s law enforcement agency to improve their response times and provide more reliable public safety services. The project will benefit the approximate 400 residents of the town.  

USDA is announcing awards through several programs today in Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.

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.

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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