White Paper Encourages Use of USDA Programs for Energy Efficiency Projects

According to a white paper issued by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy - more USDA energy programs can and should be used for efficiency projects. White paper author Kate Farley says improving the quality of life in rural areas is an important part of USDA's mission. She says one way they can do this is by promoting energy efficiency. Farley notes there seems to be broad, bipartisan support for programs in the farm bill energy title - but a lot of people don't know about them or that they can be used for energy efficiency projects. She points to the USDA Energy Investment Report - which shows programs like the Business and Industry Loan Program, the Rural Electric Development Loan and Grant Program and the Value-Added Producer Grant have only been used for a handful of energy efficiency projects apiece since 2003. Farley says a lot of American homes and businesses could potentially make use of these programs - as about 20-percent of Americans live in areas USDA considers to be rural and are therefore eligible for many of these programs. She says non-farm rural businesses can also benefit from these programs.

The white paper - Energy Efficiency Opportunities at USDA - outlines the main USDA programs that provide funding that can be used for energy efficiency. This includes some of the better known initiatives such as the Rural Energy for America Program and the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. Farley says these programs - and others than haven't been used for energy efficiency in years - make up a toolkit that the energy efficiency community should keep in mind when working in rural areas.

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