Bennet, Hickenlooper Welcome Clean Energy Funding to Rural Communities Across Colorado

Denver — Colorado U.S. Senators Michael Bennet and John Hickenlooper welcomed the announcement from the Department of Agriculture (USDA) that rural small businesses across Colorado were awarded almost $425,000 in critical infrastructure to lower energy costs, expand access to clean energy, and combat climate change. These investments were made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and funded by the Inflation Reduction Act, which Bennet and Hickenlooper helped pass. The Rural Energy for America Program helps farmers, agricultural producers, and entrepreneurs purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

“I’m thrilled that clean energy projects across Colorado will receive this funding, which will help rural communities cut greenhouse gas emissions, create new local economic opportunities, and lower energy costs,” said Bennet. “We have no time to waste as Coloradans face both high energy costs and the impacts of climate-fueled disasters like wildfire and drought.”

“Transitioning to clean energy goes hand-in-hand with lowering energy costs for rural families. This is just the beginning for Colorado,” said Hickenlooper.

“People in rural America are on the front lines of climate change, and our communities deserve investments that will strengthen our Country’s resilience,” USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “President Biden has created a roadmap for how we can tackle the climate crisis and expand access to renewable energy infrastructure, all while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money on their energy costs. These investments underscore the Biden-Harris administration’s commitment to providing funding and resources to rural people and communities across the country to help drive economic security and prosperity.”

The REAP grants will help make the following clean energy investments across the Western Slope:

  • $117,500 to the Glacier Club in Durango for four solar roof systems
  • $60,973 to a Wastewater facility in Durango for a solar electric system
  • $32,211 to a Leland House Suites and Lola's Place restaurant in Durango for a solar array
  • $27,915 to the Montezuma County Clerk building in Durango for a solar roof
  • $136,587 to Mountain Side Energy in Bayfield for a solar electric system
  • $49,401 to Van Treese Farms in Monte Vista for a solar roof system

USDA also announced that it will make available $300 million in REAP funding to expand renewable energy and support energy-efficiency projects for people living in rural America. This funding includes $250 million from the Inflation Reduction Act. 

Bennet has consistently fought for robust funding for USDA’s rural clean energy programs including the Rural Energy for America Program. Last week, Bennet urged USDA to quickly distribute clean energy funds from the IRA to rural communities in innovative, flexible ways. During the Senate Agriculture Committee’s recent hearing on the 2023 Farm Bill, Bennet noted feedback he received from Coloradans during his Farm Bill listening sessions on the difficulties they face accessing USDA programs, including rural development funds.

Bennet championed provisions in the IRA to accelerate clean energy deployment, create local economic opportunities, and lower costs for families in rural communities. The IRA includes nearly $14 billion for rural clean energy programs at the USDA, including $9.7 billion in financial assistance to help rural electric cooperatives transition to clean energy, $1 billion in additional funding for electric loans for renewable energy, and an additional nearly $2 billion for the Rural Energy for America Program. Bennet helped secure these investments alongside direct pay provisions in the IRA that allow rural electric cooperatives, public power companies, Tribes, and other entities without tax liability to access clean energy tax credits for the first time ever. Together, these measures will position rural communities to capture the benefits of the transition to a clean energy economy.