Department Makes Funding Available Under the Inflation Reduction Act to Expand Renewable Energy in Rural Communities
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced USDA is investing $1.2 million in critical infrastructure to lower energy costs, expand access to clean energy for people across Rural Florida, and combat climate change (PDF, 920KB).
“Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is putting the people of rural America at the heart of solutions for climate change and renewable energy,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Lakeisha Hood. “When we invest in climate solutions, we invest in the people of rural America to help create thriving, livable communities.”
USDA is making 844 investments, including 9 in Florida, through the Rural Energy for America Program. This program helps farmers, ag producers and entrepreneurs purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses lower energy costs. Some examples include:
- Ovipost, Inc. in LaBelle, Florida will use a $18,159 grant to replace current lighting with LED lighting to save 38 percent of energy.
- In Plant City, Florida, Wish Farms Cooling and Packing LLC will use a $66,565 investment in their berry produce operation for the purchase and installation of an 842-kilowatt (kW) solar array. This project will realize $137,386 per year in savings and will generate 1,248,961 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is enough electricity to power 115 homes.
- The Laser Investment Group, based in the City of Alachua, will use a $246,551 investment to assist a rural, small business develop a renewable energy system. Project funds will be used for the purchase and installation of a 709 kilowatt (kW) solar array that will be roof mounted. This project will replace 985,542 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is enough electricity to power 90 homes.
USDA also announced today that it will make $300 million available under the Rural Energy for America Program to expand renewable energy and support energy-efficiency projects for people living in rural America. This funding includes $250 million provided by the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic legislative package known as the Inflation Reduction Act. The deadline to apply for grants is March 31, 2023. Applications for technical assistance grants are due Jan. 31, 2023. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
Interested applicants are encouraged to contact their local USDA Rural Development State Energy Coordinator well in advance of the application deadlines to discuss their project and ask any questions about the REAP program or the application process. Additional information on the required materials and how to apply for the REAP program are available in the December 15, 2022, Federal Register.
The Rural Energy for America Program investments announced today are part of a $285 million investment in critical infrastructure in 46 states to combat climate change and expand access to clean energy for people across rural America. These investments reflect the goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act.
In August, Congress passed the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic legislative package known as the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to reduce energy costs for families and create thousands of good-paying jobs for people across rural America. IRA represents the largest single investment in rural electrification since the passage of the Rural Electrification Act in 1936.
The Act provides funding to USDA Rural Development to help eligible entities purchase renewable energy and zero-emission systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, it provides:
- Up to $1 billion for RUS loans for renewable energy infrastructure; up to $2.025 billion for the RBCS Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), with $303 million set aside for underutilized technologies and technical assistance.
- Up to $500 million in RBCS grants for infrastructure improvements to blend, store or distribute biofuels. This includes installing, retrofitting or upgrading dispensers for ethanol at retail stations as well as home heating oil distribution centers.
- Up to $9.7 billion for RUS to offer loans, grants, loan modifications and other financial assistance to support the purchase of renewable energy systems, zero-emission systems and carbon capture systems.
This commitment to cleaner energy will help USDA Rural Development provide resources to reduce climate pollution and ensure that rural people and their communities have access to a clean, secure energy supply to keep people and economies prepared for the future.
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. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.
USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, ensuring access to 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.
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