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Department of Agriculture, Department of Energy Launch Initiative to Help Farmers Reduce Costs with Underutilized Renewable Technologies as part of President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today are launching a new initiative to help farmers cut costs and increase income using underutilized renewable technologies including smaller-scale wind projects. Through the Rural and Agricultural Income & Savings from Renewable Energy (RAISE) initiative, USDA is setting an initial goal of helping 400 individual farmers deploy smaller-scale wind projects using USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This goal is only possible because of President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act which provided more than $144 million in grant funding for underutilized technologies through the REAP program.

Additionally, today DOE is announcing a total of $4 million in related funding, including $2.5 million to support the testing, certification and commercialization of the latest distributed wind technologies including for the agricultural sector, and $1.5 million to support outreach and the identification and development of new business models for farmers to save money and earn income deploying these technologies.

“Today’s announcement furthers the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to rebuild our nation’s economy from the middle out and bottom up by increasing income and opportunities for the small and mid-sized farmers that keep rural main streets vibrant,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “By strengthening our longstanding partnership with DOE through the RAISE initiative, USDA is ensuring farmers and hardworking Americans everywhere have the opportunity to save money and earn income from smaller-scale, distributed renewable energy technologies. These investments will create long-lasting economic benefits for their families, businesses and communities for years to come.”

“There is a huge opportunity to power the American heartland with distributed wind resources, and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is tapping into that potential so that all Americans can reap the benefits of the clean transition,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is raising the bar with our partners at USDA—creating jobs, lowering costs and increasing energy independence for farmers and those in rural communities.”

Operating under an existing memorandum of understanding, USDA and DOE have a joint working group overseeing an action plan for the RAISE initiative. DOE has identified advances in certified distributed wind technology that have opened a significant market opportunity, enabling cost-effective investments for farmers and rural communities.

Initial RAISE initiative activities, focused on smaller-scale or distributed wind, are expected to include:

  • USDA providing additional technical assistance to support applications for the use of the $144.75 million in grant funding from the Inflation Reduction Act for REAP underutilized technology projects, including but not limited to farmer-owned smaller-scale wind projects, small-scale hydropower, geothermal, biomass-based and other clean energy. DOE also intends to prioritize technical assistance for smaller-scale wind projects through various programs.
  • DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office funding $1.5 million for research into and outreach on new business models for collaborations of farmers to earn income from distributed wind, including through farm associations that could administer it with fee-for service models.
  • DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office calling for proposals for up to $2.5 million under the Distributed Wind Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP), which funds distributed wind technology development, testing, certification, and commercialization. CIP provides support to U.S. component suppliers and manufacturers of small- and medium-sized wind turbines. For the first time, this round of CIP funding includes a specific focus on commercialization of distributed wind turbines for the agricultural sector in support of the RAISE initiative.
  • USDA and DOE hosting a joint webinar series to provide information to farmers, rural electric cooperatives, farm associations, and small-scale, distributed wind providers about our programs and how to use them to develop place-based wind projects. The first webinar in the series will launch a new National Distributed Wind Network and Resource Hub on March 14, 2024.
  • USDA and DOE developing a farmers guide to distributed wind power that will include technical, economic, and geospatial analysis regarding distributed wind technologies and applications as well as ways to finance smaller-scale wind projects.
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