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Biden-Harris Administration Invests in Clean Energy and Domestic Biofuels to Strengthen American Farms and Small Businesses as Part of Investing in America Agenda

Today, in honor of Earth Day 2024, Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl Torres Small announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is funding more than 700 clean energy projects to lower energy bills, expand access to domestic biofuels and create jobs and new market opportunities for U.S. farmers, ranchers and agricultural producers. Many of the projects are funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s largest-ever investment in combating the climate crisis.

The projects advance President Biden’s Investing in America agenda to grow the nation’s economy from the middle out and bottom up. They will create jobs and spur economic growth in rural communities by increasing competition in agricultural markets, lowering costs and build more clean energy projects.

“The Biden-Harris Administration and USDA are committed to expanding access to modern clean energy systems and fueling options that strengthen the nation’s energy independence while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money,” Deputy Secretary Torres Small said. “As we celebrate Earth Day this year, we are excited to partner with hundreds more family farms and small businesses to address the impacts of climate change, grow the economy and keep rural communities throughout the country strong and resilient.”

In all, USDA is providing $238 million in funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP).

Rural Clean Energy Production

Torres Small announced more than $194 million in loans and grants through REAP to support projects in 35 states and Puerto Rico.

The REAP program helps agricultural producers and rural small business owners expand their use of wind, solar, geothermal and small hydropower energy and make energy efficiency improvements. These innovations help them increase their income, grow their businesses, address climate change and lower energy costs for American families.

The REAP program is part of the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure 40% of the overall benefits of certain federal climate, clean energy and other investment areas flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution.

These investments will cut energy costs for family farms and other businesses, increasing their resiliency and allowing them to invest back into their communities by creating new jobs and other opportunities. For example:

  • In Pennsylvania, Cellar ‘54 LLC will use a $49,000 grant to buy and install a 48-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system for its winery in the Lake Erie wine region in the borough of North East. This project is expected to save the business approximately $4,500 annually and will generate more than 32,000 kilowatt hours per year.
  • In New Jersey, Oishii Mega Farm NJ LLC will use a $15 million loan to convert a vacant building in Phillipsburg into an energy efficient production facility to grow Omakase and Koyo strawberries. The facility will include a high-tech indoor vertical farming operation and facilities to harvest, package, ship and distribute produce. The project will create 45 new jobs and reduce operating costs by $150,000 annually by being able to grow strawberries in a more efficient and controlled environment.
  • In Tennessee, Yarbro Farms will use a $536,000 grant to install a 301.92-kilowatt ground-mounted solar array on its row crop farm in the city of Martin. The project is expected to save the family farm more than $32,000 annually. It will also save 406,900 kilowatt hours of energy per year, enough to power 34 homes.

USDA is making the REAP awards in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Puerto Rico.

Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has invested more than $2 billion through REAP to support renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements that will help rural business owners lower energy costs, generate new income, and strengthen their resiliency of operations.

USDA continues to accept REAP applications and will hold funding competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. The funding includes a dedicated portion for underutilized renewable energy technologies. For additional information, contact a local energy coordinator.

Cleaner and More Affordable Fueling Options

USDA is also awarding more than $43 million in grants through HBIIP to business owners to increase the availability of domestic biofuels in 15 states and give Americans cleaner, more affordable fuel options.

HBIIP provides grants to fueling station and distribution facility owners, including marine, rail, and home heating oil facilities, to help expand access to domestic biofuels, a clean and affordable source of energy. These investments help business owners install and upgrade infrastructure such as fuel pumps, dispensers and storage tanks. For example:

  • In Pennsylvania, Clyde S. Walton Inc. will use a grant of more than $810,000 to install a 30,000-gallon biodiesel storage tank and loading equipment at its home heating oil distribution facility in Lansdale. This project is expected to increase the amount of biodiesel sold by more than 5 million gallons per year.
  • In Kansas, Blue River Valley LLC will use a $3 million grant to rebuild a pair of 2-million-gallon ethanol storage tanks and other equipment at a fuel distribution facility in Potwin. This project is expected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by more than 238 million gallons per year.
  • In Minnesota, Twin Cities Auto Repair & Gas LTD will use a $402,000 grant to install four E15 dispensers and two ethanol storage tanks at a fueling station in Burnsville. This project is expected to increase the amount of ethanol sold by 996,000 gallons per year.

USDA is making the HBIIP awards in California, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin.

Since the start of the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has invested approximately $135 million to increase access to biofuels at fueling stations. In June 2023, USDA made $450 million available in Inflation Reduction Act funding through the HBIIP to expand the use and availability of higher-blend biofuels.

USDA continues to accept applications for funding to expand access to domestic biofuels. These grants will support the infrastructure needed to reduce out-of-pocket costs for transportation fueling and distribution facilities to install and upgrade biofuel-related infrastructure such as pumps, dispensers and storage tanks. Applications are being accepted quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports 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. Visit the Rural Data Gateway to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America. To subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit the GovDelivery Subscriber page.

USDA touches the lives of all Americans each day in so many positive ways. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is transforming America’s food system with a greater focus on more resilient local and regional food production, fairer markets for all producers, ensuring access to safe, healthy and nutritious food in all communities, building new markets and streams of income for farmers and producers using climate-smart food and forestry practices, making historic investments in infrastructure and clean energy capabilities in rural America, and committing to equity across the Department by removing systemic barriers and building a workforce more representative of America.

Source : usda.gov

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