USDA Invests $77,000 in Renewable Energy Infrastructure to Help Rural Communities, Businesses and Ag Producers Build Back Better

Nikki Gillespie
Release Date
Sep 14, 2021

Projects Will Support Climate-Smart Solutions to Lower Energy Costs  

LINCOLN, Nebr., Sept. 14, 2021 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Acting State Director Kim Martini today announced more than $77,000 to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure to help lower energy costs for nine ag producers and rural small businesses in Nebraska.

“Today’s investments are part of USDA’s priority to help rural America build safe, modern infrastructure,” Martini said. “These investments will have the additional benefit of lowering energy costs for rural small businesses and ag producers, allowing them to save on their bottom line and expand economic and employment opportunities in rural areas.”

USDA is financing $77,050 of these investments through the Rural Energy for America Program. This program provides funding to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. These climate-smart investments will conserve and generate more than 441,076 kilowatt-hours (kWh) in rural America, which equates to enough electricity to power 36 homes per year. 

For example:

  • In Juniata, corn and soybean farm FTS Enterprises Inc. will use an $18,189 grant to install a 15-kW wind turbine. The project is expected to save the farm nearly $4,000 in energy costs per year and generate nearly 52,000 kWh of electricity per year, which is enough energy to power four homes.
  • Real estate lessor Sharon Wilkinson will use a $9,208 grant to install a more energy efficient irrigation motor. The new system is expected to save Wilkinson nearly $4,000 in electrical costs per year and save 116,632 kWh of energy per year, which is enough to power 10 homes.
  • In Hay Springs, Farm to Family Cooperative Grocery Store will use a $1,803 grant to install an energy efficient deli case counter, produce cooler and sandwich prep cooler. The new equipment is expected to save the store nearly $2,300 in electrical costs per year and save 26,524 kWh per year, which is enough energy to power two homes.

Today’s projects are part of a larger investment nationwide recently announced by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that the Department is investing $464 million to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure and to help rural communities, agricultural producers and businesses lower energy costs in 48 states and Puerto Rico: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Wyoming and Puerto Rico. 

For example:  

  • In North Dakota, Red Trail Energy LLC will use a $25 million loan to build a carbon-capture processing and storage facility at an ethanol manufacturing facility. The project will provide a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the carbon intensity score of ethanol the company produces. It also will enable the company to distribute ethanol to low-carbon fuel standard markets.    
  • Gulf Coast Solar LLC in Mississippi will use a $500,000 grant to make energy efficiency improvements at three wastewater treatment facilities in Hancock County. Funds will help the company design, build and install fixed-tilt, ground-mount solar photovoltaic equipment through a contract with LightEdison. The equipment will help replace 103 percent of electricity at the North location, 57 percent of electricity at the South location and 107 percent of electricity at the West location.

USDA is also financing $335 million of these investments through the Electric Loan Program. The loans will help build or improve 1,432 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas. The loans include $102 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.

To learn more about these and other resources for rural areas, contact a USDA Rural Development office

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 If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page