Department Makes Additional Funding Available Under the Inflation Reduction Act to Expand Renewable Energy in Rural Communities
WASHINGTON, 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 provided by the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic legislative package known as 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, including four in New Jersey that total of $357,272. 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.
USDA Rural Development State Director Jane Asselta said, “These grants help reduce operational costs for New Jersey’s rural and small businesses so they can invest in growth, expansion, and job creation. The four projects being announced today are expected to generate or save the equivalent kilowatts needed to power 32 homes.” Asselta continued, “Through implementation of the Inflation Reduction Act, USDA Rural Development will be able to assist with 40 percent, up from the previous 25 percent, of total project costs for renewable energy or energy efficiency projects. The Inflation Reduction Act funding allocated to New Jersey will increase five-fold, allowing us to green-light more projects in 2023. And with the grant assistance of 40%, which can be combined with other incentive programs, these energy efficiency and renewable energy projects are more affordable. A win-win for our farmers and small businesses and another big step towards reducing New Jersey’s dependency on fossil fuels.”
In New Jersey, the $357,272 in Rural Energy for America Grant funds is being invested in four businesses:
- Country Blues LLC, located in Mays Landing, has received $38,000 to purchase a 65-kilowatt (kW) roof mounted solar array. Country Blues LLC is a blueberry processing facility that has been in operation since 2012. This project will replace 78,160 kilowatts (kW) (106 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power seven homes.
- Cotton Cattle Company, located in Asbury, has received $58,604 to assist the family-owned farm located on 220 acres of farmland, to purchase a 101.76-kilowatt (kW) roof mounted solar array that will handle the on farm energy needs as well as the energy needs of a new, more efficient, walk-in freezer. This project will replace 30,802 kilowatt hours (kWh) (100 percent) per year, which is enough to power three homes.
- Kindle Ford-Lincoln Inc, located in Cape May Courthouse, has received $93,775 to purchase a 167 kilowatt (kW) carport mounted solar array. The dealership has been in operation since 1962. This project will sell 215,329 kilowatt hours (kWh) to an interconnected car wash, which is enough to power twenty homes.
- Three Puglisi Brothers Inc, located in Howell, has received $166,893 to help Puglisi Egg Farms, in operation since the 1950's, to purchase a 240.48 kilowatt (kW) roof mounted solar array. This project will replace $27,778 per year, which is enough electricity to power two homes.
The deadline to apply for the Rural Energy for America Program 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 Maryann Tancredi, Rural Development New Jersey Business Programs Director, well in advance of the application deadlines to discuss their project and ask any questions about the REAP program, the application process or to register for an information listening session on Thursday, January 26, 2023 at 10:00AM. Additional information on the required materials and how to apply for the REAP program are available in the Dec 15, 2022, Federal Register.
The Rural Energy for America Program investments announced today reflect the goals of the Biden-Harris Administration’s 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, passed by Congress in August, represents the largest single investment in rural electrification since the passage of the Rural Electrification Act in 1936.
The Inflation Reduction 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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.