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Following Earth Day, USDA Invests Nearly $39.5 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural Minnesota

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date
Apr 25, 2022

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 25, 2022 - Today, following Earth Day 2022, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director for Minnesota Colleen Landkamer announced $39.5 million in climate-smart infrastructure to strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural Minnesota.

“Climate change affects rural areas in significant ways, whether that’s an ag producer with damaged crops resulting from life-threatening storms and severe weather or a community in need of a warning siren for the safety of its residents during these same conditions,” Landkamer said. “Throughout the entire month of April, USDA has been celebrating the spirit of Earth Day through events and announcements, like this one today, that highlight the importance and impact climate-smart infrastructure investments. We couldn’t be prouder of the ways that Minnesota’s businesses, ag producers and communities are doing their part to reduce our human impact on climate.” [radio actuality of Landkamer on today’s investments – 00:00:58.671]

  • Ag producer Nathan Gibbs will use a $17,500 Rural Energy for America (REAP) grant to purchase and install a 40 kilowatt (kW) solar array in near Rollingstone, Minn. This renewable energy infrastructure will help save the farmer more than $8,200 in annual electrical costs and replace approximately 72,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) in annual energy production, which is enough electricity to power six homes.
  • Peter Simones, owner of a skid loader refurbishment and sales business, will use a $10,313 Rural Energy for America (REAP) grant to purchase and install an 18-kW solar array that will save the business nearly $2,800 in annual electrical costs and replace approximately 25,500 kWh of energy production, which is enough to power two homes.
  • Renville-Sibley Cooperative Power Association Minnesota will use a $10.2 million Electric Infrastructure Loan to build or improve 44 miles of line, connect 29 rural consumers, and construct a new headquarters facility. These improvements include $435,000 in smart grid technologies.
  • Crow Wing Power will use a $29.3 million Electric Infrastructure Loan to build 232 miles of line and connect 2,658 rural consumers. These improvements include nearly $4 million in smart grid technologies.
  • 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.

Today’s investments are in coordination with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recent nationwide announcement that the department is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure 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.

[radio actuality of Secretary Vilsack & USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small – 00:00:59.951]

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

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

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

The Electric Program includes funding for smart grid technologies that improve system operations and monitor grid security.

Infrastructure Improvements for Communities Hit by Severe Weather

Through the Community Facilities Disaster Grants program, funds help rural communities purchase emergency response equipment and be better prepared and more resilient in the face of disaster.

Background: Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour

Today’s announcement is also 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. 

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.

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/mn.

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