SACE is excited to announce that yesterday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its final rule on the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. The USDA anticipates that, under the Rural Utilities Services department of the USDA, it will provide $250 million in federal loans to rural electric cooperatives and utilities who can then re-lend the money to assist homeowners and businesses finance energy efficiency and renewable energy investments.
This new use of funding provides necessary capital for energy efficiency upgrades in homes and businesses, and rural electric cooperatives and utilities have the option of allowing their customers to repay their loans through on-bill financing. Here in the Southeast, Central Electric Power Cooperative and the South Carolina Electric Cooperatives successfully piloted an on-bill financing program that will save participants ~$8500!
The loan program is great news for the economy and the environment. One of the goals for projects funded with the loan is to attract new business and create jobs in rural communities by investing in energy efficiency. Further, in the USDA program announcement, Agriculture Secretary Vilsack noted that promoting energy savings in rural areas is another step by which USDA is supporting President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
In the Southeast, where we have hundreds of rural electric cooperatives, this represents a new opportunity to reduce customer bills, reduce energy waste and reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. More information about the timeline for applications is coming soon from the USDA and we will keep you updated as we learn more.