The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is seeking public comment to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a virtual public listening session on April 22, 2021.
The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PL 116-260) provides $10 million to USDA to develop a pilot program that provides financial assistance to rural communities to further develop renewable energy. USDA is seeking input to help develop options for the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The new program will aim to support the nation's critical energy needs and combat climate change while advancing environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity through the use of distributed energy technologies, innovations, and/or solutions.
A listening session will be held virtually on Thursday, April 22, 2021, at 11:00 am to 1:30 pm PST. All interested parties, including potential customers, prospective partners, and technology providers, are encouraged to register to participate.
USDA is also seeking public comment on the following topics:
- Program purposes, goals, metrics, and standards;
- Applicant eligibility, participants, and partners, including but not limited to communities, residences, industry, and commercial entities;
- Eligible technologies, including but not limited to generation, storage, controller, and grid;
- Potential impact of the pilot program and renewable energy systems more broadly on environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity; and
- Options to measure and maximize the benefits of renewable energy systems for environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity in rural areas.
Written comments are encouraged and must be submitted online via the Federal eRulemaking Portal by 8:59 PST on April 29, 2021. All comments received will be posted without change and will be publicly available on regulations.gov.
For additional information on the request for public comments and the upcoming listening session, see page 16575 of the March 30, 2021, Federal Register.