USDA Seeks Public Input to Help Create a New Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program

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Agency to Host Public Listening Session on April 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, PA — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced it is requesting public input from interested parties, including potential customers and interested stakeholders, to help create a new Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. To ensure a diverse group of voices are heard, USDA is seeking written comments and will host a public listening session on April 22, 2021.

“When we invest in creating new sources of renewable energy, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs in rural America,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson said. “To meet this goal, we must put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions, and that begins with getting feedback from a broad, diverse set of voices from the start.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (PL116-260) provided $10 million to USDA to develop a pilot program that provides financial assistance to rural communities to further develop renewable energy. This request for information and the stakeholder listening session seek input to help develop options for the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program. The new program will aim to support the Nation’s critical energy needs, and combat climate change while advancing environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity through the use of distributed energy technologies, innovations, and/or solutions.

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The stakeholder listening session will be held virtually on Thursday, April 22, 2021, 2 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. EDT. Anyone can RSVP to participate online by visiting: attendee.gotowebinar.com/register/5335247546266883854

Public comment is requested on the following topics:

  • Program purposes, goals, metrics, and standards;
  • Eligible applicants, participants, partners including but not limited to communities, residencies, industry, and commercial entities;
  • Eligible technologies including but not limited to generation, storage, controller, and grid;
  • Potential impact of the pilot program and renewable energy systems more broadly on each of the following: environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity; and
  • Options to measure and maximize the benefits of renewable energy systems for environmental justice, racial equity, and economic opportunity in rural areas.

Written comments are encouraged and must be submitted online by April 29, 2021, via the Federal eRulemaking Portal. To submit a comment, visit www.regulations.gov and search for the Docket ID RBS–21–Business–0010. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments. All comments received will be posted without change and will be publicly available on regulations.gov.

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For additional information on the request for information and listening session, see page 16575 of the March 30, 2021, Federal Register (PDF, 229 KB).

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.

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