Projects Will Help People in Disadvantaged Communities Access Clean Energy
COLUMBIA, S.C., 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.
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.
“People in rural America 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.”
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, seven projects in today’s announcement will help advance equity in South Carolina rural communities, especially in those that have been socially vulnerable, distressed and underserved for far too long.
Clean Energy Infrastructure and Energy Efficiency Improvements
“We are proud to announce that USDA is investing $106.3 million in renewable energy infrastructure and electric improvements throughout South Carolina,” said USDA State Director for South Carolina Dr. Saundra Glover. “Investments like these will help rural residents and communities build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before.”
The renewable energy infrastructure projects will 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 six South Carolina 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, in South Carolina,
Limelight Solar I LLC will use a $2.1 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 2.5-megawatt solar system. The system is expected to produce 3.9 million kilowatt hours per year, which is enough electricity to power 362 homes in the city of Spartanburg.
Joshua Kubacz dba Anelyn Farm, located in Anderson County, will use a $10,395 investment to install a 25.5 kW roof mounted solar array system. This project will generate 23,165 kWh of electricity per year.
Ali Sina Moezzi farm, located in Beaufort County, will use a $14,050 investment to purchase and install a 12.16 kW roof mounted solar array . This project will offset approximately 82 percent of the business energy consumption.
Whitetail solar LLC, located in Dillon County, will use a $5.3 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 114.126 MWdc solar array. Whitetail Solar LLC is a newly created entity whose purpose is to generate electricity. The system is estimated to produce 25,074,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is enough electricity to power 2,313 homes.
Allora Solar LLC, a newly created entity whose purpose is to generate electricity in Lexington County, South Carolina, will use a $25 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 105 MWdc solar array. The system is estimated to produce 181,445,488 kWh per year, which is enough electricity to power 16,495 homes.
AGA TAG Solar II LLC, a new entity that generates electricity in Cowpens, South Carolina, will receive a $2.2 million REAP loan to purchase and install a 2.76 MW solar system. The system is estimated to produce 4,783,000 kWh per year, which is enough electricity to power 447 homes.
The Electric Program funding for South Carolina includes $71.5 million for smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security. Lynches River Electric Cooperative will use the investment to connect 2,267 consumers and build and improve 163 miles of line. This loan includes various smart grid projects in the amount of $44,177,351 including the installation of 3,107 miles of fiber backbone communication network. Lynches River is headquartered in Pageland, South Carolina, and provides service to an average of 21,385 consumers over 2,912 miles of line in in Chesterfield, Kershaw and Lancaster counties all in South Carolina.
Infrastructure Improvements for Communities Hit by Severe Weather
USDA is investing $12 million to help rural communities hit by severe weather. The funds will benefit people living in 17 states, the Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico. 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 Puerto Rico, Acueducto Rural Comunidades Especiales Bayamoncito Inc. will use a $30,000 Water and Waste Disposal Disaster Grant to buy a new 20-kilowatt generator with an automatic transfer switch. This grant will help ensure people living in Aguas Buenas, a community hit by Hurricane Maria in 2017, have access to safe and reliable drinking water in the event of any future natural disasters.
The city of Graceville, Minnesota, will use an $11,000 Community Facilities Disaster Grant to purchase and install an emergency storm siren. The siren will alert community residents of potential severe weather.
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, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming, Northern Mariana Islands and Puerto Rico.
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/sc.
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