On October 28, 2022, Rural Development issued the following Stakeholder Announcement:

Department to Host Virtual Listening Sessions on Nov. 3 and 4
WASHINGTON, Oct. 28, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Rural Development Under Secretary Xochitl Torres Small today announced that USDA is seeking public input on how to use Inflation Reduction Act funding to advance clean energy for people in rural America. This commitment to cleaner energy will help USDA Rural Development provide resources to reduce climate pollution and ensure that communities have access to a clean, secure energy supply to keep rural people and economies prepared for the future.

In August, Congress passed the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic legislative package known as the Inflation Reduction Act to reduce energy costs for families and create thousands of good-paying jobs for people across rural America.

The Act provides funding to USDA Rural Development to help eligible entities purchase renewable energy and zero-emission systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, it provides:

  • Up to $2.025 billion for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), with $303.8 million set aside for underutilized technologies and technical assistance. Funds are anticipated to support renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects for farms and small businesses.
  • Up to $1 billion for loans for renewable energy infrastructure. The Act authorizes the agency to forgive up to 50% of the loan amount. Eligible entities include electric service providers, including municipals, cooperatives, investor-owned and Tribal utilities.
  • Up to $500 million in grants for infrastructure improvements to blend, store or distribute biofuels. This includes installing, retrofitting or upgrading dispensers for ethanol at retail stations as well as home heating oil distribution centers.
  • Up to $9.7 billion for loans, grants, loan modifications and other financial assistance to support the purchase of renewable energy systems, zero-emission systems and carbon capture systems. Funding also may be used to deploy these systems or to make energy-efficiency improvements to generation and transmission systems of eligible entities.

USDA is hosting two virtual listening sessions to provide an opportunity for stakeholders and other interested parties to submit comments. Tribes and Tribal utilities are invited to join these sessions. USDA will announce a Tribal-specific listening session or consultation in the near future. The following listening sessions will be recorded and made publicly available:

  • USDA is hosting a listening session on Thursday, Nov. 3, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time for rural communities, rural small businesses, and agricultural producers including renewable energy generation providers, distribution utilities, transportation fueling facilities, fuel distribution facilities, environmental, community and consumer groups, industry associations, and Federal, state, and local government and agencies. To register, visit: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_l_ptMftKRU2zlJPMdiXF9A.
  • USDA is also hosting a listening session on Friday, Nov. 4, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Eastern Time for rural electric cooperatives and related stakeholders as described above. To register, visit: https://www.zoomgov.com/webinar/register/WN_HeGqpB7YTYOG6tmBjDyx7g. Interested parties may also submit written comments on or before Monday, Nov. 28.

For more information about funding provided under the Inflation Reduction Act, see page 65188 of the Oct. 28 Federal Register.

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