US Announces $11 Billion Funding for Clean Energy in Rural Communities
Two new programs will support clean and affordable energy and new jobs
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced nearly $11 billion in funding to help bring affordable renewable energy to rural communities nationwide.
One of the two programs eligible for the funding is Empowering Rural America (New ERA) program. Operated by USDA, it will launch a letter of interest process to offer eligible rural electric cooperatives $9.7 billion in funding.
These cooperatives can utilize the funds to implement renewable energy systems, zero-emission technologies, and carbon capture systems.
They can apply for grants, loans, and loan modifications through the New ERA program between July 31, 2023, and August 31, 2023.
USDA will also launch a letter of interest process for the second program Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program.
It offers $1 billion in partially forgivable loans to various renewable-energy developers and electric service providers. These providers include municipals, cooperatives, investor-owned utilities, and Tribal utilities.
The application period for the PACE program is June 30, 2023, to September 29, 2023.
The funding from the PACE program aims to support the financing of large-scale projects related to solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, and energy storage.
The programs collectively signify the most substantial investment in rural electrification since President Roosevelt enacted the Rural Electrification Act in 1936.
The plan focuses on rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure, attracting over $435 billion in private-sector manufacturing investments, generating well-paying jobs, and fostering a clean-energy economy to address the climate crisis and enhance community resilience.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “These investments will also combat climate change and significantly reduce air and water pollution that risks children’s health. The USDA stands ready to partner with municipalities, tribal entities, entrepreneurs, rural electric cooperatives, and other utilities to bring this transformative investment to life and create new economic growth and healthier communities.”
In February, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $2.5 billion in funding for two carbon management programs to significantly mitigate the carbon emissions from power generation and hard-to-abate industrial operations.
Last November, DOE announced $13 billion in funding to expand and upgrade the national electric grid.