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USDA Invests $121 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America

Jessica Duerstine
Release Date

289 Projects Will Help People in Socially Vulnerable Communities

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh today announced USDA is investing $121 million in critical infrastructure to combat climate change across rural America. The investments include $111 million for 289 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities. In Delaware and Maryland, a total of $84,208 is being invested in four local projects:

“Rural America is on the front lines of climate change, and our communities deserve investments that will strengthen all of our resilience,” Bronaugh said. “The Biden-Harris Administration has created a roadmap for how we can tackle the climate crisis and expand access to renewable energy infrastructure. The investments we’re announcing today and those that will be made possible by historic funding from President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act will strengthen our energy security, create good-paying jobs and save Americans money on their energy costs.”

The funding will help people in 49 states, Guam and Puerto Rico. It reflects the many ways USDA Rural Development helps rural residents, businesses and communities address economic development, infrastructure and social service needs.

These investments reflect the goals of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which addresses immediate economic needs and includes the largest ever federal investment in clean energy for the future. For example, the Act includes $14 billion in funding for USDA programs that support the expansion of biofuels and help rural businesses and electric cooperatives transition to renewable energy and zero-emission systems. 

“Clean energy is not only beneficial in addressing climate change, but it can also help rural America manage energy costs,” said USDA Rural Development State Director for Delaware and Maryland, David Baker. “I’m thrilled that Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program has invested more than $49k to three businesses and farms within our states to help them find solutions for their energy needs, in addition to investing over $30k from the Community Facilities Disaster Grants to support rural emergency food and transportation needs.” 


Bronaugh highlighted a total of 415 investments that USDA is making through three programs specifically designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. These programs are Community Facilities Disaster Grants, Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants, and Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grants.

The investments will help state and local government entities, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Tribes construct, renovate or purchase and install equipment for essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. They also will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems as well as make energy efficiency improvements. The investments will also help with energy audits, renewable energy technical assistance, and renewable energy site assessments. 

In Delaware and Maryland, a total of $84,208 is being invested in four local projects:

  • Interfaith Service Coalition of Hancock, Hancock, MD, is receiving $34,500. Interfaith Service Coalition of Hancock will use the Community Facilities Disaster Grants funds to purchase a passenger van to assist with emergency food and transportation programs. Since the beginning of the COID-19 pandemic, ISC has delivered meals to senior citizens and individuals with compromised immune systems who are apprehensive to leave their homes. ISC also works with local fire companies, rescue squads, and police departments to provide meals, transportation, any anything else within reason that is needed during times of emergency. The requested van is essential to keep ISC's emergency food and transportation programs in operation to continue serving the people of Washington County, Maryland.
  • Willard L. Kauffman, Harrington, DE, is receiving $19,558. Kauffman, a grain farmer, will use the Rural Energy for America Program grant towards the purchase and installation of a grain drying system for one grain bin. This project is expected to save $3,440 per year. It will replace 74,211 kilowatt hours (kWh) (66 percent of the farm's energy use) per year.
  • Bethany Travel, Inc., Millsboro, DE, is receiving $10,150. Bethany Travel, Inc., will use the Rural Energy for America Program grant funds towards the purchase and installation of a 14.44 kilowatt (kW) solar array. This project will replace 18,797 kilowatt hours (kWh) (98.5 percent of the business’s energy use) and realize $2,222 of savings per year.
  • Ski Services Unlimited, Inc., Oakland, MD, is receiving $20,000. Ski Services Unlimited, Inc., used the Rural Energy for America Program grant funds to help purchase and install a 34 kilowatt (kW) roof mounted solar system for High Mountain Sports. The new system is expected to save the business $3,601 in electrical costs per year.

Steve Green, owner of High Mountain Sports, wanted to make the switch to sustainable energy and saw the REAP grant as the perfect opportunity.

“For years High Mountain Sports has been talking about putting a solar array/system on our roof to power our operations, and it was time to go from talking the talk to walking the walk,” Green said. “The REAP Grant made it much easier for our business to become more sustainable. The Outdoors Industry has really been focused on sustainability, from using recycled materials to organic fibers, so this project has really helped us do our part and has really been a hit with our customers. Watching our energy production this summer with our staff has been a lot of fun and is really gratifying.”

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.

USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.