USDA seeks comments on rural energy pilot program

By Erin Voegele | March 30, 2021

The USDA on March 30 announced it is seeking public input on a new rural energy pilot program that was authorized in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, a bill signed by former President Donald Trump on Dec. 27, 2020.

Section 781 of that nearly 5,600-page bill authorizes $10 million to the USDA “to carry out a pilot program to provide financial assistance for rural communities to further develop renewable energy.”

The USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service is now requesting public input from interested parties and hosting a listening session on the new pilot program. The agency is specifically seeking comments focused on program purposes, goals, metrics and standards; eligible applicants, participants, and parties; eligible technologies, including generation, storage, controller and grid; the potential impact of the pilot program and renewable energy systems on environmental justice, racial equality, and economic opportunity; and options to measure and maximize the benefits of renewable energy systems for environmental justice, racial equality, and economic opportunity in rural areas.

Public comments can be filed through April 29. A listening session is scheduled for April 22. Additional information is available on the Federal Register website.