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USDA Invests $585 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Lower Costs, Create Jobs, and Combat Climate Change Across Rural America, Expanding Renewable Energy in Rural Communities

Name
Meredith Mingledorff
City
TEMPLE
Release Date
Dec 15, 2022

U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today USDA is investing $285 million in critical infrastructure to lower energy costs, expand access to clean energy for people across rural America, and combat climate change. USDA is also making an additional $300 million available under the Rural Energy for America Program, including $250 million through the Inflation Reduction Act, to spur further investment.

“People in rural America are on the front lines of climate change, and our communities deserve investments that will strengthen our country’s resilience,” Vilsack said. “President Biden has created a roadmap for how we can tackle the climate crisis and expand access to renewable energy infrastructure, all while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money on their energy costs. These investments underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to providing funding and resources to rural people and communities across the country to help drive economic security and prosperity.”

USDA is making 844 investments 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.

These funds will help people living in 46 states. For example, in Texas, Wieland Solar received $2,456,000.00. This Rural Development investment will be used to provide long term financing for a 2.94-megawatt solar farm located in Hunt County, Texas. This project's energy generation will help Texas diversify energy generation with distributed renewable energy. This will improve energy resiliency and reduce the cost of energy for the utility and its customers. The project is expected to create 45 local construction jobs, and power approximately 350 rural households. 

Bulk Inc. DBA Bulk Beef Jerky was awarded $28,656.00. This Rural Development investment will be used to install a 55-kilowatt solar array. It will produce 77,494 kilowatt-hours annually, enough to power seven homes, worth approximately $6,975.00.

Shottenkirk Texas Properties LLC was awarded $116,250.00. This Rural Development investment will be used to install a 277-kilowatt solar array. It will produce 386,381 kilowatt-hours annually, enough to power 35 homes, worth approximately $19,600.00.

Ezell Farms was awarded $124,875.00. This Rural Development investment will be used to offset energy costs at a poultry operation located in Teague Texas. The solar array will produce 222 kilowatts of energy, enough to power 32 homes. Overall, Ezell Farms will save $31,623 per year in energy costs.
 
The $300 million available under the Rural Energy for America Program will expand renewable energy and support energy-efficiency projects for people living in rural America 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 Dec 16, 2022, Federal Register.

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 healthcare, 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.