Three Bennet bills—co-sponsored by Gardner, Merkley, and Whitehouse—would expand funding eligibility for clean energy projects
Washington, D.C. – Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today introduced three bills to boost rural economic opportunities by expanding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funding eligibility for clean energy projects. This funding would help improve electric grid security, create more energy choices for businesses, and advance the development and deployment of low-carbon, clean energy technologies—all in rural communities throughout the country.
The bills include the bipartisan Promoting Cybersecurity for Rural Electric Utilities Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO), the Energy Storage for Rural America Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR), and the Carbon Utilization Act, co-sponsored by U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).
“As we look to the future of clean energy, we must invest in innovative, secure, and low-carbon technologies—especially in rural communities,” Bennet said. “We will work to include these energy provisions in the Farm Bill to provide funding for projects that create jobs, secure our electricity systems, and combat climate change. We must ensure that rural communities are included in the clean energy economy.”
Improve Electric Grid Security: The bipartisan Promoting Cybersecurity for Rural Electric Utilities Act, co-sponsored by Bennet and Gardner, would clarify that cybersecurity and electric grid security improvements are eligible for $5 billion of USDA Rural Utility Service financing.
Create More Energy Choices: The Energy Storage for Rural America Act, co-sponsored by Bennet and Merkley, would make energy storage technologies eligible for USDA Rural Energy for America Program funding and financing.
“The Energy Storage Association (ESA) strongly endorses the legislation introduced today by Senator Bennet, which represents a common-sense update to a program introduced before the widespread availability of energy storage technologies. We commend the Senator’s focus on improving access to capital so that rural cooperatives can deploy cost-effective energy storage systems to save money for their customers. Funds made available by this legislation will help cooperatives and agricultural businesses make more efficient use of their electric system resources and infrastructure while ensuring a more resilient and reliable, sustainable, and affordable electric grid,” said ESA CEO Kelly Speakes-Backman.
Develop Low-Carbon, Clean Energy Technologies: The Carbon Utilization Act, co-sponsored by Bennet and Whitehouse, would allow emerging carbon utilization technologies, such as carbon capture, utilization, and sequestration (CCUS) and biogas production, to access USDA loan guarantees, research programs, and rural development loans. The bill also would create education programs and encourage interagency collaboration to advance these technologies.