The United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) rural energy programs are poised to create tens of thousands of new energy jobs while supporting reliable electricity in rural America. We need to stop Congress from slashing these vital rural energy programs!
These three programs will make long-needed investments in energy infrastructure for rural America:
1. Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) funds energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities for farms, ranches, and small businesses across the country. USDA received applications for REAP totaling $75 million in 2022. They have already received applications requesting funding totaling over $900 million for this year.
2. Empowering Rural America (New ERA) provides funding for rural electric systems to invest in critical electric infrastructure and achieve emissions reductions. Without budget cuts it is estimated to create more than 90,000 jobs over the next 10 years. USDA received over 157 applications from nearly every state plus Puerto Rico expressing interest in applying for funding for clean energy projects. These applications asked for over $70 billion in projects for the $9.7 billion available.
3. Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) provides partially forgivable loans for rural renewable energy projects by electric co-ops, municipal utilities, and tribal utilities. This program had just $1 billion in funding and received over $7 billion in applications.
Unfortunately, despite their high level of interest, these programs are at risk of losing critical funding in US Congress.
Take action! This year, members of Congress introduced the Rural Energy Savings Act (RESA) to reauthorize the Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP) in the 2023 Farm Bill. The program provides interest-free loans to electric cooperatives and other utilities which they then lend to consumers to make affordable, energy efficiency improvements to their homes or businesses. Ask your members of Congress to oppose cuts to REAP, New ERA, and PACE funding, and ask them to support the Rural Energy Savings Act (RESA) in the 2023 Farm Bill. In addition, please ask them to appropriate $26 million toward the Rural Energy Savings Program in the upcoming appropriations bill.