COLUMBIA – U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the department is investing $464 million to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure and to help rural communities, agricultural producers and businesses lower energy costs in 48 states and Puerto Rico.
Acting State Director Marty Bright-Rivera announced that 11 of these projects totaling $25.3 million are in South Carolina.
Locally, Dantzler Farms located in Orangeburg County will use a $19,770 grant to help purchase and install a grain dryer. This project will save $9,346 per year and replace 204,892 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough electricity to power 18 homes.
“USDA continues to prioritize climate-smart infrastructure to help rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before,” Vilsack said. “We recognize that lowering energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers helps to expand economic development and employment opportunities for people in America’s rural towns and communities. The investments we are announcing today demonstrate how the Biden-Harris administration has put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions.”
USDA is financing $129 million of these investments through the Rural Energy for America Program. This program provides funding to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. These climate-smart investments will conserve and generate more than 379 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) in rural America, which equates to enough electricity to power 35,677 homes per year.
“In this funding cycle, 11 South Carolina agricultural producers and rural businesses located throughout the state will receive over $25.3 million in Renewable Energy funding,” said Marty Bright-Rivera, acting state director for South Carolina Rural Development. “We believe projects like these are climate-smart solutions which will help lower energy costs.”
USDA is financing $335 million of these investments through the Electric Loan Program. The loans will help build or improve 1,432 miles of line to strengthen reliability in rural areas. The loans include $102 million for investments in smart grid technology, which uses digital communications to detect and react to local changes in electricity usage.
Under the Biden-Harris administration, 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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.