St. Charles, Minnesota, February 1, 2024 – Today, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack visited St. Charles, Minnesota, where he highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to lower energy costs, generate new income and create jobs in rural communities. These investments – combined with historic funding for rural America under President Biden’s Investing in America agenda – ensure that rural Americans have the fullest opportunity to find success in their hometowns.
Secretary Vilsack visited family-owned grocery store Miller’s Market, where he joined Governor Tim Walz to meet with local producers and small business owners that have received funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses access renewable energy infrastructure and energy efficient upgrades. REAP is critical to the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts to grow the nation’s economy from the middle-out and bottom up, create jobs and spur economic growth in rural communities by increasing competition in agricultural markets, lowering costs and expanding clean energy.
"Thanks to President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, producers and rural communities have more opportunities to participate in the clean energy economy than ever before,” said Secretary Vilsack. “Minnesota communities have taken full advantage of these opportunities, leading to lower energy costs for business owners, savings and more income for producers, and vibrant Main Streets.”
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA has invested more than $1.6 billion in 5,457 projects through REAP, including $53.8 million for 495 projects in Minnesota, more than any other state in the country. President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act provided the funding for 145 of those projects, totaling nearly $11 million. The Inflation Reduction Act made available approximately $1.4 billion in additional funding for REAP from 2022-2024 to help meet the demand in applications for the popular and oversubscribed program, including in Minnesota.
In St. Charles, Secretary Vilsack participated in a discussion with several recent REAP recipients, including:
- Miller’s Market in St. Charles received a $64,000 grant to install a 50-kilowatt solar array that is expected to replace 102,500 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, which is enough energy to power nine homes and the equivalent of 12.6% of the store’s annual energy consumption.
- Mark and Karen Goldberg of Stewartville received a grant of nearly $78,000 to install a wind turbine on their farm, which will save them $11,520 per year. The construction of the turbine was recently concluded and replaces over 103,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year.
- Four Daughters Winery in Spring Valley received a $167,500 REAP award to install a 207-kilowatt solar array. This project, expected to undergo construction this year, is expected to save the business $53,000 per year in electrical costs and replace 287,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, which is enough energy to power 26 homes. This is 58% of the winery’s annual energy consumption.
- The locally-owned Ace Hardware Store in St. Charles was awarded $52,000 to install a 39-kilowatt solar array. This project is expected to replace 78,850 kilowatt hours of electricity per year- 85.5% of their total annual energy usage.
Secretary Vilsack also highlighted the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investments in rural communities through President Biden’s Investing in America agenda. Through the American Rescue Plan, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Inflation Reduction Act, USDA is helping producers find new revenue opportunities while simultaneously addressing climate change and helping create stronger, more resilient communities. The Biden-Harris Administration is building a system that adds value for farms of every shape, every size, and in every location across the country.
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. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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