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USDA Rural Development Leadership Visit PACE Project, Announce Clean Energy & Electrical Infrastructure Investments in Rural Arizona

Isaac Navarrete
Release Date

MARANA, Ariz. (Mar. 15, 2024) – Yesterday, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Under Secretary for Rural Development Dr. Basil Gooden joined Arizona State Director Charlene Fernandez on a site visit to Trico Electric Cooperative Inc. and a roundtable discussion with local leaders on the importance of clean energy and USDA’s Powering Clean Energy and Affordability (PACE) program. This comes after last week’s announcement in San Antonio, where Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Trico Electric’s $83.5 million project proposal advanced in the award process and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) received a $76.5 million loan through the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program.

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to cleaner energy provides rural communities with an affordable and reliable power grid, while supporting thousands of new jobs and helping families lower energy costs,” Under Secretary Gooden said. “Through the Powering Affordable Clean Energy Program, we look forward to partnering with those who develop energy resources and deliver electric service to Arizonans. USDA Rural Development is committed to ensuring rural communities have access to reliable, affordable electricity and maintain a strong, resilient economy that supports their quality of life.”

“Through the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, rural and tribal communities in Arizona will receive the necessary support to maintain electrical independence and produce clean energy,” State Director Fernandez said. “These communities are often underinvested and burdened with pollution, but the investments made through USDA will alleviate these issues.”

Trico Electric Cooperative Inc. recently moved forward in the PACE awards process as they seek $83.5 million to expand its battery energy storage system capacity and provide reliable electricity to the growing number of people living in the surrounding areas of Tucson and the Pascua Yaqui Reservation. This funding would help the cooperative reach its goal to cut its carbon emissions in half by 2032.

NTUA Generation-Utah LLC will use the $76.5 million loan to finance the construction of a 93.7 MWdc/72MWac ground-mounted, single-axis tracking solar photovoltaic farm. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is a wholly owned enterprise of the Navajo Nation headquartered in Fort Defiance, Arizona, that provides electricity, natural gas, water, sewer, and broadband services to the residents of the Navajo Nation. This project is constructed within the Red Mesa Chapter of the Navajo Nation, located in San Juan County, Utah. This project is expected to create 220 local construction jobs, power approximately 36,000 rural households, and provide permanent employment for 2 to 3 people.


President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act marks the largest single investment in rural electrification since the Rural Electrification Act of 1936.  

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 also provided historic funding for 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.

In May 2023, USDA made available nearly $11 billion of this funding through the Empowering Rural America (New ERA) and the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE)  programs.  The first PACE awards have been selected to move forward in the awards process and more will be announced in the coming months.

USDA makes funding available for the Electric Infrastructure Loan and Loan Guarantee Program through regular appropriations from Congress. It provides funding to utility providers and electric cooperatives to build and improve electric infrastructure, smart-grid technologies and renewable energy systems. Through this program, USDA Rural Development ensures everyone in rural areas has access to electricity to increase economic opportunity and quality of life.

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. Visit the Rural Data Gateway to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America.

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, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, 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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