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USDA Invests in Critical Infrastructure to Lower Costs, Create Jobs, and Combat Climate Change Across Rural America

Name
Charron Culp
City
NASHVILLE
Release Date

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Dec. 15, 2022 - U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced 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. Tennessee State Director Arlisa Armstrong is pleased to announce $822,500 in REAP funding will benefit farmers, ag producers, and entrepreneurs in rural Tennessee.

“We are committed to combating the challenges of climate change, and providing the necessary relief that our rural communities need for everyday living,” Armstrong said. “Through partnerships, today’s investments will help rural farmers, ag producers, and entrepreneurs save on their energy costs and make energy efficiency improvements.”

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. In Tennessee:

  • Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods Inc will use a $350,312 grant to make energy efficiency improvements by purchasing and installing a wood-fired boiler plant to their drying facility for steam. Thompson Appalachian Hardwoods is a family-owned and operated sawmill in Huntland, Tennessee that purchases market hardwood and softwood logs to be cut into lumber then kiln-dried. This project will realize $461,708 per year in savings, and will replace 18,222,866 kilowatt hours (kWh) (102 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power 1,681 homes.
     
  • Webb Farm Solar System Inc will use a $49,950 grant to purchase and install a 125 kilowatt (kW) solar array. Webb Farm Solar will add the new solar array to an already installed 375 kilowatt (kW) system. The new array will generate 171,000 kilowatt (kW) in energy savings per year which is enough energy to power 16 homes.
     
  • Beckett Road Partners LLC will use a $37,531 grant to make energy efficiency improvements with the installation of LED lighting upgrades. Beckett Road Partners, a lessor of commercial warehouse facilities in Humboldt, Tennessee, will realize $2,958 per year in savings, and will replace 15,733 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is enough electricity to power one home.
     
  • Sovereign Pastures LLC will use a $49,996 grant to purchase and install a 102 kilowatt (kW) solar array. Sovereign Pastures, a locally owned and operated farm, will earn $17,190 in annual savings and will generate 143,248 kW in energy savings per year which is enough energy to power 12 homes.
     
  • New River Hardwoods Inc will use a $250,000 grant to make energy efficiency improvements with the purchase and installation of a biomass boiler. New River Hardwoods, a wood mill and curing business, will use the new boiler for their curing operations. This project will realize $467,006 per year in savings, and will replace 10,631 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is enough electricity to power one home.
     
  • Hardwoods of Morristown Inc will use a $24,595 grant to replace old inefficient fluorescent lighting with newer, more energy efficient LED lighting technology in their existing facility. Hardwoods of Morristown is a wood product sales business. This project is expected to save $7,170.43 per year, and will save 66,630 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually which is enough energy to power six homes.
     
  • TKC Hospitality I LLC will use a $60,116 grant to replace old, inefficient HVAC units and single pane windows with newer, energy efficient units and windows in its facility. TKC Hospitality I LLC operates a hotel known as The Ramsey Hotel, which has been in operation under the same ownership since 2017. This project is expected to save $15,856.89 per year, and will save 169,774 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually which is enough energy to power 15 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 Dec 15, 2022, Federal Register.

Background:
The
Rural Energy for America Program investments announced today 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 to reduce energy costs for families and create thousands of good-paying jobs for people across rural America. The Inflation Reduction Act 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 energy costs and 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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