Biden administration puts $375M toward rural renewables

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced $375 million in funding for renewable energy projects, predominantly through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

The funding, announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, includes $275 million through the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program, an IRA program devoted to renewable electrification in rural areas. The funds will go to communities in Alaska, Arizona, Kentucky and Nebraska. The two largest awards will go to battery energy storage systems in Fairbanks, Alaska, and the Soldotna Substation in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, both of which will receive $100 million.

PACE will also put $55.2 million toward three battery storage projects in Benson, Ariz.; $16.6 million for a hydroelectric plant on the Kentucky River; and $3.6 million toward a community solar facility in Madison, Neb.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will also award $100 million in grants and loans through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) across 39 states and Puerto Rico. The largest of these will include more than $84,000 in grants for heating mats and LED lighting in Auxvasse, Mo., and an $82,000 grant for an energy-efficient grain dryer in St. Lawrence County, N.Y. REAP, which will keep applications open through the end of September, has awarded more than $2 billion since the beginning of the Biden administration.

“We are excited to partner with hundreds more family farms and small businesses as well as rural electric cooperatives and local clean energy developers to address the impacts of climate change, grow the economy and keep rural communities throughout the country strong and resilient,” Vilsack said in a statement.

The announcement comes about a year after the administration announced $11 billion in IRA funds to boost rural renewables, with most of the funds going to rural electric cooperatives, which the administration said would be the largest cash injection into rural electrification since the New Deal of the 1930s.

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