New Economic Opportunities to be Created for Businesses and Residents
BURLINGTON, Vt., Jan. 8, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today awarded $46 million in assistance to the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) to support energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in rural areas across the state.
USDA awarded VEIC $46 million in assistance to help its customers save money, and live more comfortably by installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency upgrades, such as switching to cleaner and more efficient fuel sources and installing energy efficient building upgrades. This is the largest Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP) project in terms of both financing and scale that the USDA's Rural Utilities Service has made since the program's launch in December 2013.
"This loan will reduce barriers to energy investments by lowering the upfront costs, spreading these costs over 20 years, and by making financing more available," Vilsack said. "It also will help residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial consumers in rural Vermont reduce energy use and meet state and national energy goals."
VEIC will operate and administer their program through Efficiency Vermont, an energy efficiency utility with a state-wide and predominantly rural service territory. The utility has a 15-year history of providing efficient lighting, appliances, equipment, and HVAC systems to residential and business customers. Efficiency Vermont dedicates a portion of its annual budget to services for low-income residents. VEIC's partnership with Efficiency Vermont serves as a model of how utilities can enable large-scale energy efficiency and renewable investments.
This USDA loan is expected to provide major benefits to rural Vermont residents, businesses, and communities beyond reducing the burden of energy costs. For example, reducing energy costs for farmers and food manufacturers—including family run dairies and maple syrup producers—can help them remain competitive. Cost-effective and high-quality energy efficiency upgrades will enable families and business to feel more comfortable during Vermont's long heating season and spend less on heating costs.
To date, the program has provided $56.6 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in rural areas. It also is another step by which USDA is supporting President Obama's Climate Action Plan. The program will help build a cleaner and more sustainable domestic energy sector for future generations by reducing barriers to investment in energy efficiency and potentially cutting energy bills for rural American families and businesses in the process.
USDA has other energy initiatives in addition to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. Since 2009, the Department has provided financing for more than 14,000 energy projects nationwide through $2.1 billion in strategic investments to support rural businesses and American energy independence. These programs have saved more than 10.5 billion kilowatt hours of energy and have produced 160 million gallons of advanced biofuels.
In Vermont (PDF, 53.2 KB) alone, USDA invested nearly $2.7 billion between 2009 and 2014. This includes more than $680 million in economic development to support affordable housing and create jobs; more than $263 million in infrastructure development, including electricity, broadband and telecommunications, water, and community facilities; and $135 million through conservation efforts to protect Vermont's land, water and air resources. In 2016, we will continue to build on that investment to support the farmers, growers and rural small businesses driving the rural economy forward, including accepting new applications to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, carry out record conservation efforts, facilitate groundbreaking research, promote new markets for rural products, and provide a safe, affordable and nutritious food supply for Vermont families.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.
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