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

Today, in honor of Earth Day 2024, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Tennessee State Director Arlisa Armstrong announced that ten rural farmers and small businesses will receive funding to lower energy bills. This funding is just a small portion of the more than 700 clean energy projects across rural America. 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.

“We are excited to celebrate Earth Day 2024 by partnering with ten family farms and small businesses in rural Tennessee to address the impacts of climate change. USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program helps agricultural producers and rural small business purchase and install clean energy systems and support energy efficiency improvements,” Armstrong said. “Thanks to the Inflation Reduction Act, today’s investments will help transform rural power production, cut energy bills for families, and strengthen our rural communities.”

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

Agriculture Deputy Secretary Xochitl 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. 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.
  • Clean Laundry Fund LLC will use a $59,000 grant to install a 44-kilowatt (kW) roof-mounted solar array in Shelbyville, Tennessee. The project is expected to save the laundry mat $4,604 annually resulting in 51,160 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy saved per year. This is enough energy to power four homes.
  • The Winery at Seven Springs Farm LLC will use a $100,000 grant to replace automated wine bottling equipment at their family on-farm winery in Maynardville, Tennessee. This project is expected to save 22,289 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy resulting in $2,949 saved annually. This is enough energy to power two 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, 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.

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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