U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for Colorado Armando Valdez announced today the investment of $8,107,445 for three projects for critical infrastructure to combat climate change across rural Colorado.
“USDA Rural Development is in a unique position to make climate-smart investments in rural infrastructure to help America build back better and stronger. Rural areas, especially farming and ranching communities, experience the extreme variability from climate change and its impact. This can lead to uncertain circumstances for these communities. The funding provided today will help remove roadblocks and promote economic development, create jobs, generate clean energy, reduce utility bills, and help to offer a consistent foundation of infrastructure resources,” said Valdez.
These investments reflect the goals of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which addresses immediate economic needs and includes the largest ever federal investment in clean energy for the future. For example, the Act includes $14 billion in funding for USDA programs that support the expansion of biofuels and help rural businesses and electric cooperatives transition to renewable energy and zero-emission systems. In Colorado, three entities were awarded funding, including:
- Ash Mesa Solar, LLC in Montrose, will use an $8,000,000 Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loan to install a solar photovoltaic (PV) energy generation system. The newly formed entity will sell the energy generated to a local business. The system is estimated to generate 20,104 megawatts (mW) annually, which is enough to power over 1,850 homes.
- Norman Brothers in Cope, will us a $7,445 Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Grant to install a 10.8 kW grid-tied, non-battery, solar electric system to replace the historical energy consumption for agricultural production. The annual energy cost saving for this project are $1,428.32.
- San Isabel Electric Association in Pueblo will use a $100,000 Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grant to assist approximately 53 rural small businesses to obtain energy audits. The audits will cost between $1,500 and $5,000 depending on the size of the business.
Nationwide, USDA is investing $121 million in critical infrastructure to combat climate change across rural America. The investments include $111 million for 289 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities.
A total of 415 investments were highlighted through three programs specifically designed to help people and businesses in rural areas. These programs are Community Facilities Disaster Grants, Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants, and Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grants.
The investments will help state and local government entities, nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Tribes construct, renovate or purchase and install equipment for essential community facilities for public use in rural areas. They also will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems as well as make energy efficiency improvements. The investments will also help with energy audits, renewable energy technical assistance, and renewable energy site assessments.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, 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 in Colorado, visit www.rd.usda.gov/co.