USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will make up to $10 million available to help residents of rural towns develop renewable energy projects that will help cut energy costs and contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change.
The USDA is making the funds available through the new Rural Energy Pilot Program, through which the USDA says it is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to addressing “the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities.”
The USDA will make up to $10 million in grants available to particularly underserved rural communities. The funds can be used to deploy community-scale renewable energy technologies and innovations to reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, such as solar, wind, geothermal, micro-hydroelectric and biomass/bioenergy. Up to 20 percent of awarded funds may also be used for community energy planning, capacity building, technical assistance, energy efficiency and weatherization.
The Department is also offering priority points to projects that advance key priorities under the Biden-Harris Administration to help communities recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, advance equity and combat climate change. These extra points will increase the likelihood of funding for projects seeking to address these critical challenges in rural America.
Prospective applicants must submit a Letter of Intent prior to submission of a complete application. The letters must be submitted via electronic upload into a secure cloud vault, by 11:59 p.m. EST on April 19, 2022. Details on an upcoming informational webinar is forthcoming and will be posted to the Rural Energy Pilot Program webpage. Application guides and submission information are available on the program website, under the To Apply tab. For additional information, see page 2747 of the Jan. 19 Federal Register.
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to support 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.