Biden-Harris Administration Makes Historic, $11 Billion Investment to Advance Clean Energy Across Rural America

Shageluk power plant
Photo by Amanda Byrd
A power plant in Shageluk, a rural community in Alaska.

May 19, 2023

United States Department of Agriculture State Director for Rural Development Julia Hnilicka announced last week the availability of nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities that will help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country.

“Energy impacts all of our lives, especially in rural areas. We are at a pivotal moment to create a new vision for how energy serves our communities,” Hnilicka said.

“This is an opportunity for us to think big, to bring the energy solutions that might've seemed out of reach in the past. The possibilities provided by these transformative energy programs to rural communities is unparalleled. Across Alaska and America, these new monies can support tribes, tribal organizations, municipalities, and co-ops as they partner with Rural Development to power us into the future.”

Funding is available through two programs under President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which makes the nation’s largest-ever investment in combatting the climate crisis. Specifically, the USDA will be opening a Letter of Interest process for the Empowering Rural America program, which makes $9.7 billion available to eligible rural electric cooperatives to deploy renewable energy systems, zero-emission and carbon capture systems.

USDA will also be opening a Letter of Interest process for the Powering Affordable Clean Energy program, which makes $1 billion available in partially forgivable loans to renewable-energy developers and electric service providers, including municipalities, cooperatives and investor-owned and tribal utilities to help finance large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower projects, and energy storage in support of renewable energy systems.

Together, these two programs represent the single largest investment in rural electrification since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law in 1936.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, 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.

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