Historic Funding: USDA to spend $11 billion on rural energy

According to a USDA press release, it is the single-largest investment in rural electrification since President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law in 1936.

“These investments will also combat climate change and significantly reduce air and water pollution that put children’s health at risk,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture stands ready to partner with municipalities, tribal entities, entrepreneurs, rural electric cooperatives, and other utilities to see this transformative investment come to life and create new economic growth and healthier communities.”

Funding is available through two programs under the Inflation Reduction Act. USDA will open a Letter of Interest process for the Empowering Rural America (“New ERA”) program, which makes $9.7 billion available to eligible rural electric cooperatives to deploy renewable energy systems and zero-emission and carbon capture systems.

In addition to New ERA, USDA will also open a Letter of Interest process for the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, which makes $1 billion available in partially forgivable loans to renewable-energy developers and electric service providers to help finance large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower projects, and energy storage in support of renewable energy systems.