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USDA Invests in Communities Vital to Energy Production

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Daniel Blottenberger's picture
Public Affairs Specialist USDA Rural Development Pennsylvania

At USDA Rural Development we are committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in rural America. Through our more than 40 loan and grant programs, we touch rural America in many...

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  • Mar 18, 2022
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U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Deputy Under Secretary Justin Maxson today announced that the Department is investing more than $20 million in rural communities that are vital to helping sustain the country’s energy production. These awards are part of $465 million the Biden-Harris Administration has invested through USDA Rural Development in Appalachia’s priority energy communities.

“Supporting communities that have had – and with USDA’s assistance, will continue to have – a key role in the development and use of domestic energy will help rural areas retain jobs, grow their economies and maintain their important role in supporting the nation’s energy independence,” Maxson said. “Investments like these show that under the leadership of President Biden, the federal government is working with rural communities in a seamless and nimble way to ensure rural residents and workers can compete for good jobs and thrive for generations to come.”

USDA is investing in three communities with funds from four Rural Development programs that demonstrate the Department’s coordinated approach to creating good-paying union jobs, spurring economic revitalization, and contributing to the clean energy transition while supporting energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country. The funding will help build and upgrade power distribution lines and improve physical and community infrastructure.

The funding will help rural communities in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia which are part of twenty-five communities historically reliant on energy production that have been prioritized for federal investment. These investments reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s near- and long-term actions to support energy communities as the nation transitions to a clean-energy economy. These policies and goals are outlined in greater detail by the White House-led Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Coal and Power Plant Communities and Economic Revitalization.

“Today, we’re announcing investments of more than $20 million in rural communities in western Pennsylvania that are vital in energy production for the region,” Bob Morgan, state director, USDA Rural Development in Pennsylvania said.

In Pennsylvania, Central Electric Cooperative will use a $20 million Electric Program loan to build and improve 111 miles of line and connect 795 people. The loan includes $115,153 in smart grid technologies. Smart grid uses digital communications to help utilities better manage the power grid and detect and react to local changes in electricity usage. Central Electric serves about 25,000 customers over 3,049 miles of line in seven counties in western Pennsylvania.

The two other award recipients announced today are:

  • In West Virginia, the Norton Harding Jimtown Public Service District will use a $363,000 Water and Waste Disposal grant to extend and upgrade a gravity collection sewer system and pump stations along State Route 151 and additional areas in Norton.
  • In Ohio, Pease Township in Belmont County will use a $62,000 Community Facilities Program loan to purchase a dump truck with a snowplow and salt spreader to maintain more than 45 miles of roads in the county.
Discussions
Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Mar 18, 2022

USDA is investing in three communities with funds from four Rural Development programs that demonstrate the Department’s coordinated approach to creating good-paying union jobs, spurring economic revitalization, and contributing to the clean energy transition while supporting energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country. The funding will help build and upgrade power distribution lines and improve physical and community infrastructure.

What a tremendous program. I'd love to hear if there are any anecdotes of community members skeptical of these type of projects but who were won over after seeing the positive impacts to their community. 

Jim Stack's picture
Jim Stack on Mar 21, 2022

This is a very bad program. Clean energy should be the only support we give. We have subsidized oil and gas and coal for too long.

Quote=while supporting energy workers in coal, oil and gas, and power plant communities across the country.

Daniel Blottenberger's picture
Thank Daniel for the Post!
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