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USDA Rural Development invests over $6 million in renewable energy

Investment is part of $487 million, announced nationwide on Earth Day
Apr 23, 2021

For Earth Day, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will aid communities in 45 states to build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship.

The USDA is making investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. In Maine, 11 wastewater facilities and rural businesses will receive over $6 million in loans and grants from USDA Rural Development.

“When we invest in accessible and modern climate-smart infrastructure in rural communities, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs,” Maxson said.

“The investments we are announcing today demonstrate how the Biden-Harris Administration has put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions.”

USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Tommy R. Higgins said, “Today’s Earth Day announcement of over six million dollars invested in rural Maine communities underscores USDA Rural Development’s everyday commitment to a healthy, clean and sustainable environment.

"This key announcement facilitates the upgrade of water and wastewater infrastructure in rural communities and helps to install renewable energy systems in rural businesses, preserving the beautiful Maine environment we all treasure.”

Through this announcement, 11 wastewater facilities and rural businesses in Maine will receive a total of $6,052,958 for critical infrastructure upgrades and renewable energy installation:

City of Rockland will receive a Water and Waste Direct Loan in the amount of $462,000. This Rural Development investment will be used to pay for the additional costs incurred to rehabilitate the city of Rockland’s wastewater treatment facility.

The proposed project will focus on the wastewater system as it is in need of immediate upgrades. Some of the plant's original equipment and processes are upwards of forty years old, and the overall facility is beyond the 20-year useful life for which it was originally designed.

The proposed upgrades will help the system operate more effectively and efficiently, as well as address the Maine Department of Environmental Protection's health and sanitary concerns.

The upgrades included in this project represent the highest priorities identified in the city's Strategic Plan and Combined Sewer Overflow Master Plan and will have the greatest benefit to the distribution system. The proposed project will not only correct the plant's current operating deficiencies, but also help the city improve their economic development opportunities.

Heiwa Tofu, in Rockport, will receive a Rural Energy for America Program Grant in the amount of $8,822. This Rural Development investment will be used to purchase and install a 20.15 kW roof-mounted solar PV system. This project will replace 21,200 kWh (37%) of business energy usage and realize $1,667 of savings annually.

Highlights of the nationwide announcement include investments in:

Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure:

USDA is investing $374 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states.

Through its Water and Environmental Programs, USDA funds vital water infrastructure that directly benefits the health, economic vitality and environment of rural America.

Renewable Energy in Rural Communities:

USDA is investing $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program. This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.

Biofuel infrastructure:

USDA is investing $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year. This will give consumers more environmentally-friendly fuel choices when they fill-up at the pump.

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 If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

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