ORIGINAL REPORTING: Help For Rural Utilities To Build New Energy
The Rural Utilities Service: How the USDA is building a clean energy future for rural America; A little-known federal program has billions to dole out for renewables and efficiency projects for underserved populations
Herman K. Trabish, June 10, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: It will be worth noting what happens to this program aimed at Trump country during the Trump administration. Will it follow the drive for infrastructure investment or succumb to the hostility to New Energy? And how will Trump voters respond?
From the best-kept secrets file: There is a little-known $6.25 billion federal fund offering low interest loans and guarantees to utilities looking to build rate-based infrastructure. Along with the funding, utilities can work cost-free with knowledgeable staff anxious to get applicants successfully through the process of building the kinds of renewable energy, smart grid, and efficiency projects utility customers are clamoring for. It has invested over $1.1 billion since 2009 in 26 renewable energy projects in rural America and is actively looking for more renewables and energy efficiency opportunities. The only catch is that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS)-funded projects have to meet the needs of underserved communities with populations of 20,000 or less.
Power providers can leverage the funding with a variety of partners. RUS money is to improve economic development and the quality of life in rural America and can go to corporations, states, territories and subdivisions and agencies such as municipalities, people's utility districts, and nonprofit, limited-dividend, or mutual associations. The loans and loan guarantees finance construction of electric distribution, transmission, and generation facilities, including system improvements and replacements required to furnish and improve electric service in rural areas, as well as demand side management, energy efficiency and conservation programs, and on-grid and off-grid renewable energy systems… click here for more