Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien today announced a proposed rule to clarify how USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) determines eligibility for financing electric projects.
“This proposed rule provides clear guidance on RUS’s lending authority that promotes renewable energy and supports smaller projects,” said O’Brien. “USDA’s ability to help deliver reliable and affordable electric power to rural areas helps create jobs and increase productivity to strengthen both rural and US economies.”
To promote renewable energy and smaller projects, the proposed rule clarifies the methods that determine eligible projects, such as calculating power use in rural areas. The proposed rule also requires applicants for RUS electric funding to estimate the percentage of the load that serves rural consumers and offers flexibility in financing options for distribution, transmission, generation, and energy efficiency project that serve rural areas.
Comments on the proposed rule must be received no later than August 5, 2013. For more information, see pages 33757 -33764 of the Federal Register, or visit https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/06/05/2013-13309/rural-determination-and-financing-percentage. Since 2009, USDA has provided funding for 650 electric projects serving 8.6 million people in 46 states.
President Obama’s plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President’s leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA’s investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.