Agriculture Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced funding to help reduce energy costs for residents of remote rural areas where the cost of producing electricity is extremely high. The funds are being provided through USDA’s High Energy Cost Grant program.
The program is administered by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. Recipients use funds to improve energy generation, transmission or distribution facilities that serve communities where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275 percent of the national average. Grants are available to businesses, non-profit entities, states, local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes.
For example, two neighboring communities in rural Alaska will receive funding to complete an eight mile electrical connection (intertie). The connection will stabilize power costs for the residents of the predominantly Alaska Native communities of New Stuyahok and Ekwok. In Kamuela, Hawaii funds will be used to purchase a methane gas-fired generator to provide electricity to a produce processing facility and commercial kitchen.
The funding announced today totals more than $9.3 million. Funding for individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement.
- Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc.; $2,520,000 – Funding will enable construction of an electrical connection between New Stuyahok and Ekwok. The eight-mile electrical intertie will stabilize energy costs.
- Denali Commission, $2,500,000; Funding will support Denali Commission assistance to the Alaska Village Electric Cooperative as it constructs an electrical intertie between the communities of Stebbins and Saint Michael.
- City of Coffman Cove, $175,000; Funding will be used to provide a renewable energy interconnection to part of the City of Coffman Cove that currently generates its own electricity because it is not connected to the grid.
- Rivertop Solutions LLC, $365,000; Funding will be used to purchase a 225 kW methane gas-fired generator. The generator will consume methane produced by an existing digester and provide electricity to a produce processing facility and a commercial kitchen. The project is designed to support the Native Hawaiian farming community on the Waimea Hawaii Homestead.
- Monhegan Plantation Power District, $420,154; Funding will be used to replace the current switchgear, add a smaller, 40 kW generator to the power station’s fleet, and add a 13 kW solar array to the power station’s roof to support a community located 12 miles off the coast of Maine.
- Town of Gosnold, $2,146,375; Funding will be used to construct a renewable solar energy system for the community of Cuttyhunk Island. The town’s electricity is currently provided solely by oil powered generators and the proposed project will reduce fuel consumption by an estimated 50 percent.
Republic of the Marshall Islands
- Island Economic and Environmental Co., $1,000,786; Funding will be used to aid the rural un-electrified Arno Atoll; providing solar powered lighting and refrigeration to 75 households in five communities.
Chuuk State, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM)
- Chuuk Public Utility Company, $189,200; Funding will be used to design, procure, install, and commission an automatic capacitor bank that will save 870,000 kWh/year (or $240,000/year). The utility serves the 14,000 residents of Weno Island.
For information on Rural Development loans and grants to other rural businesses and individuals, visit Rural Development’s new interactive web map featuring program funding and success stories for fiscal years 2009-2011. The data can be found at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/RDSuccessStories.html.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has an active portfolio of more than $174 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.