Renewable Energy Initiative Could Help More Virginia Farmers Implement Underutilized Technologies Like Wind Power

Feb 27, 2024

Agricultural producers in the commonwealth could soon benefit from a new initiative the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) are launching today to help farmers cut costs and increase income using underutilized renewable technologies.

Both agencies are offering funding and resources through the Rural and Agricultural Income & Savings from Renewable Energy (RAISE) initiative to implement various clean energy projects with an emphasis on technical assistance for smaller-scale wind systems. USDA is supporting this effort through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and will use more than $144 million in grant funding provided through President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act to reach an initial goal of helping 400 individual farmers deploy these systems.

“Distributed clean energy projects can create cost savings and income for farmers and rural small businesses,” said Perry Hickman, USDA Rural Development Virginia State Director. “With new advances in distributed wind technologies, a single wind turbine can help meet a farm’s energy demand and save and stabilize electricity costs. A few wind turbines across several farms could support a local electricity utility, creating a revenue stream for the hosting farms.” 

Operating under an existing memorandum of understanding, USDA and DOE have established a joint working group that is overseeing an action plan for RAISE and are developing a farmers guide to distributed wind power that will include technical, economic, and geospatial analysis of these technologies and applications as well as ways to finance smaller-scale wind projects.

Interested producers, rural electric cooperatives, farm associations, and small-scale distributed wind providers are invited to attend the first in a series of joint webinars on March 14, 2024, to learn more about programs available through both agencies that can support the development of place-based wind projects. This session will also launch a new National Distributed Wind Network and Resource Hub.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA 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.

Visit the Rural Data Gateway to learn how and where these investments are impacting rural America and the GovDelivery Subscriber Page to get regular updated from USDA Rural Development.

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