1 of 3 | Partially forgivable loans are being issued to renewable-energy developers and electrical utility providers to help finance larger solar (pictured), wind, geothermal, biomass and hydropower projects as well as energy storage systems related to those types of generation methods. File Photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo
May 16 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Tuesday announced $10.7 billion in funding to help give American farmers access to clean energy, the largest investment in rural electrification in almost 90 years.
The $9.7 billion worth of grants and $1 billion worth of partially forgivable loans is through the federal government's Empowering Rural America and Powering Affordable Clean Energy programs, which are part of the Inflation Reduction Act.
Eligible energy providers can use any awarded grant money for things such as renewable energy systems and zero-emission and carbon capture systems.
Loans are being issued to renewable-energy developers and electrical utility providers to help finance larger solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower projects as well as energy storage systems related to those types of generation methods.
The end goal is to give farmers more access to clean energy, representing the largest single investment in rural electrification since the Rural Electrification Act was signed into law in 1936.
"The Biden-Harris administration's commitment to cleaner energy provides rural communities with an affordable and reliable power grid, while supporting thousands of new jobs and helping lower energy costs in the future," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.
"These investments will also combat climate change and significantly reduce air and water pollution that put children's health at risk. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stands ready to partner with municipalities, tribal entities, entrepreneurs, rural electric cooperatives, and other utilities to see this transformative investment come to life and create new economic growth and healthier communities."
Loans under the program can be up to a maximum of $100 million, with up to 40% of the total amount eligible to be forgiven.
"All across America, rural cooperatives lift up our rural communities. President Biden's investment agenda positions his Agriculture Department as the ultimate partner in this work -- financing not just upgrades to clean and affordable power, but also economic empowerment and uplift. For so many of our rural communities, this is simply a game changer. It's a big deal," National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi said in the Agriculture Department statement.