Energy Environment

US Department of Agriculture seeks public opinion on a pilot rural renewable energy initiative

The United States Department of Agriculture is inviting the public to contribute their views and thoughts to a pilot program designing to roll out renewable energy projects in rural America. According to a press statement, individuals, stakeholders in the energy sector, and potential customers can send their written comments or attend a virtual listening forum to be conducted virtually. The initiative is known as the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program and aims to rebuild the country’s middle-class through green energy solutions.

“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. 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,” said Justin Maxson, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development.

The media report mentioned that the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 set aside $10 million to develop a pilot program to support rural communities. The money was dedicated to financially back renewable energy projects started by community groups.

The USDA will use the data provided to develop options for the program to back up rural energy needs and the US at large while fighting climate change. Many states have adopted renewable energy in the country, and the Rural Renewable Energy Pilot Program seeks to expand this trend to rural areas. The press release highlighted the various topics on which the USDA is seeking public opinion. The public has been requested to comment on the program’s purpose, goals, metrics, and the set standards.

Also, the threshold to be considered for applicants to be eligible, the participating partners including communities, residences, industry, as well as commercial entities. The notice also sought comments on suitable technology, including generation, storage, controller, as well as grid. The department also asks willing contributors to render their recommendations on the program’s potential impact on environmental justice, racial equity, as well as economic opportunity.

Finally, the public has been requested to comment on the options to measure and maximize the benefits of renewable energy systems for environmental justice, racial equity, as well as economic opportunity in rural regions. The written comments are welcome through the Federal eRulmaking Portal until April 29, 2021. To participate, go to www.regulations.gov and search for the Docket ID RBS-21-Business-0010. The USDA will conduct a virtual listening session from 2 p.m to 4 p.m. EDT on April 22, and interested participants can register at the department’s website.