USDA Drops $10.7 Billion To Accelerate Rural America’s Clean Energy Transition

In response to the launch of USDA’s Empowering Rural America (“New ERA”) and the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) programs, Evergreen Action Policy Lead Mattea Mrkusic released the following statement:

“Rural electric providers are often still heavily reliant on expensive, polluting coal plants. But the $10.7 billion in funding announced today is a game changing opportunity for these providers to lead the clean energy transition without ever compromising on reliability or affordability for the customers they serve.

“The New ERA program will provide rural electric cooperatives with $9.7 billion in grants and loans to decarbonize their fleet, whether they’re refinancing existing loans to accelerate the retirement of stranded assets or investing in renewable energy sources and systems. The PACE program will provide $1 billion in partially forgivable loans to eligible recipients, like renewable energy developers, rural electric cooperatives and municipalities, to finance large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, and more. These two programs will reduce costs and climate pollution, all while improving air quality in rural communities—particularly for the fenceline communities surrounding polluting facilities. It’s a slam-dunk win for coops, their ratepayers, and anyone who likes to breathe. But time is ticking. With deadlines for initial letters of interest fast approaching, rural electric providers must act now to seize this tremendous opportunity.”

Evergreen Action worked to secure financing for rural utilities’ clean energy transition in the Inflation Reduction Act. You can read more about the programs in the bill that are key to decarbonizing the power sector here.For rural electric cooperatives to make the most of this enormous discount on clean energy, they’ll need to submit an initial letter of interest for USDA’s New ERA Program before August 31, 2023. For the PACE Program, eligible entities will have until September 29, 2023 to submit an initial letter of interest.