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On Earth Day, USDA ND Invests $35 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural ND

Christopher Freeman
Release Date

BISMARCK, N.D., April 22, 2022 – Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, USDA Rural Development State Director for North Dakota Erin Oban announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $35 million in climate-smart infrastructure to strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America.

“There are countless ways, big and small, each of us can play a role in reducing our impacts on the environment while maintaining and even improving our lives and livelihoods”, said Oban. “Rural Development offers incredible opportunities that help North Dakotans invest in their homes and small businesses, like installing solar panels on a woodworking shop in McKenzie, and in large-scale projects like $1.8 million in Smart Grid technologies. Earth Day has always been a day to demonstrate support for our environment, and Rural Development programs are here year-round for our state’s rural and tribal communities to take locally-driven action.”

Clean Energy Infrastructure and 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 3 rural businesses and agricultural producers get access to clean energy, while reducing their carbon footprint to make their business operations more cost-effective.

Jamie Zins will use a $10,018 grant to install a 12.8-kW solar array system. He operates a locally owned woodworking shop in McKenzie, ND. This project will save the business $902 per year and will replace 17,155 kWh (216 percent) per year.

Ulmer Ranch LLC will use an $11,875 grant to install a 7-kW solar array system. Ulmer Ranch is a locally owned hunting outfitting business near Flasher, ND. This project will save the business $1,191 per year and replace 9,926 kWh (100 percent) per year.

Randall Waloch will use a $20,000 grant to install a more efficient grain-drying system. Randall operates a family farm, growing small grains near Gwinner, ND. This project will save the business $1,618 per year and replace 32,273 kWh (52 percent) per year.

The Electric Program provides reliable, affordable electricity to the nation’s rural residents.

North Central Co-Op will use a $15,500,00 loan to connect 341 consumers and build and improve 88 miles of line. This loan includes $1,697,886 in Smart Grid technologies. North Central is headquartered in Bottineau and provides service to 7,605 consumers and has over 3,286 miles of line in Bottineau, McHenry, Pierce, Renville, and Rolette counties.

KEM Electric Co-Op will use a $13,840,000 loan to connect 261 consumers and build and improve 138 miles of line. This loan includes $56,000 in Smart Grid technologies. KEM is headquartered in Linton and provides service to 3,911 consumers and has over 2,892 miles of line in the counties of Burleigh, Emmons, Kidder, Logan, and McIntosh.

Infrastructure Improvements for Communities Hit by Severe Weather

USDA is investing $5 million to help four communities hit by severe weather. The Department is making the investments under the Community Facilities Disaster Grants program, Water and Waste Disposal Disaster Loan and Grant Program, and the SEARCH- Special Evaluation Assistance for Rural Communities for Rural Communities and Households Program.

The City of Napoleon will use a $590,000 loan and a $380,000 grant to replace sewer mains and install a gravity outlet on the west side of the city of Napoleon. There is a documented issue with the aged, vitrified clay pipes that are deteriorating with some pipes exhibiting groundwater infiltration. This in turn causes the pipes to shift, affecting their performance.

The City of Napoleon will also use a $480,000 loan and a $776,000 grant to remove and replace the existing water tower. It will be relocated to the southeast section of the city. New water main pipes would be installed to create a continuous 8-inch water main loop to the existing water mains. In addition, some new hydrants and gate valves will be installed. This project would help the city meet its minimum requirement of 1,200 gallons per minute for fire protection and plan for future growth.

The City of Richardton will use a $2,800,000 loan to complete city-wide street and storm sewer improvements. It will consist of milling, patching, hot bituminous pavement overlay, curb and valley gutter repairs, and storm sewer culvert replacement. Richardton’s streets are currently in poor condition due to age with cracking and raveling.

The City of Ellendale will use a $48,000 grant to purchase a new law enforcement vehicle. The vehicle it will replace is reaching the end of its useful life and needed to be upgraded. This project will ensure police protection service for years to come.

The City of Leeds will use a $30,000 grant to prepare a preliminary engineering report which will identify both water and wastewater infrastructure improvements and repairs. Upon completion, the city will be able to apply for funding and move forward with the necessary improvements.

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 practices, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers. To learn more, visit https://www.rd.usda.gov/nd.

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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