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USDA Rural Development Invests $21.8 Million to Help Rural Business Owners and Ag Producers Lower Energy Costs, Generate Income and Expand Operations in Pennsylvania

Daniel Blottenberger
Release Date

Projects Advance President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda  

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Dr. Karama Neal, Administrator, Rural Business Cooperative Service, today announced that USDA is awarding an additional $3.6 million in grants to help 30 agricultural producers and rural small business owners make energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy investments to lower energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen the resiliency of their operations in rural Pennsylvania. 

"Through the Inflation Reduction Act, President Biden and USDA are expanding access to clean energy, creating jobs and spurring economic growth for producers and small business owners in Pennsylvania, while saving people money on their energy costs,” said Dr. Karama Neal, Administrator, Rural Business Cooperative Service, USDA. “This is just another way USDA is committed to building our economy from the middle out and bottom up.” 

In Fiscal Year 2023 more than $21.8 million in Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funds were distributed to 168 energy efficiency improvement projects in rural Pennsylvania. The most recent announcement was made in September 2023.

The announcement today was made at Performance Motors a retail automotive business in Berks County that has been in operation since 1970. The dealership will use a $226,000 grant to purchase and install a 236 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic system. The project annually is expected to save the business approximately $28,600 and replace 128,159 kilowatt hours (kWh), enough energy to power 26 homes.

“REAP rural small business owners and farmers invest in energy audits and renewable energy development grants and loans that helps reduce traditional energy consumption and save money while positively impacting the environment,” State Director for USDA Rural Development Bob Morgan said. 

Just before noon, the USDA officials toured a future REAP project site in Lebanon County at Wen-Crest Farms LLC. The farm will use a $229,200 grant to purchase and install a 243 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic system for its chicken farming operation located in Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Wen-Crest Farms LLC has been operating for 17 years. This project is expected to save the farm approximately $29,500 per year and will replace 246,616 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year, which is enough energy to power 22 homes.

This funding is made possible in part by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s largest-ever investment in combatting the climate crisis. It also advances the President’s Investing in America agenda to grow the nation’s economy from the middle-out and bottom up.

On Nov. 1, USDA announced investments of $145 million in 697 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in 45 states and one territory. The investments are helping to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure and build a clean-energy economy that will combat climate change and make rural communities more resilient. 

The Department continues to accept REAP applications and will hold funding competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. The funding includes $144.5 million for underutilized renewable energy technologies. For additional information on application deadlines and submission details, see page 19239 of the March 31 Federal Register.

Background: Inflation Reduction Act

As a core pillar of Bidenomics and the President’s Investing in America agenda, the Inflation Reduction Act makes the largest investment in climate action in history and is lowering energy costs, bringing opportunity to communities across America and tackling the climate crisis through investments in agriculture, forest restoration, and rural communities.

Since December 2022, USDA has made up to $1.3 billion available in REAP funding through the Inflation Reduction Act. Eligible applicants include rural small business owners and agricultural producers. The program is part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is working to ensure that 40% of the benefits of certain federal investments reach communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.

The Biden-Harris Administration championed the Inflation Reduction Act to help provide new funding and unprecedented incentives to expand clean energy, transform rural power production, create jobs and spur economic growth. It is the largest single investment in rural electrification since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. 

Through the Inflation Reduction Act, the Administration is delivering on its promise to fight climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions across America. 

It provides funding to USDA Rural Development to help eligible organizations invest in renewable energy infrastructure and zero-emission systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It will boost the long-term resiliency, reliability and affordability of rural electric systems. It will help families save money on utility bills, and it will expand rural opportunities in the clean-energy economy.

For more information on the Inflation Reduction Act, visit: https://www.rd.usda.gov/inflation-reduction-act.

To learn more about investment resources for rural areas, visit www.rd.usda.gov or contact the nearest USDA Rural Development state office.
USDA 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.

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