USDA announced this week that it would provide funding to stabilize and reduce energy costs for residents in remote rural areas where the current costs of producing electricity is high. The funds are being provided through USDA's High Energy Cost Grant program and much of the money will go to construct renewable energy projects.
"These grants will help home and business owners offset rising energy costs by financing energy efficiency and power generation improvements to deliver energy in a more cost effective and environmentally appropriate way," says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack.
The program is administered by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. Recipients use funds to improve energy generation, transmission or distribution facilities that serve communities where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275 percent of the national average. Grants are available to individuals, businesses, non-profit entities, states, local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes.
Project examples listed include villages and communities from Maine to Alaska and include construction of wind generators, solar energy facilities, and biomass energy plants.
The funding totals more than $12 million. Funding for individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. These funds may not be used to pay utility bills, purchase fuel, or be used for the sole benefit of the applicant.