Bennet To Join White House and USDA Leaders to Welcome Nearly $11 Billion Investment to Advance Clean Energy Across Rural America

With Inflation Reduction Act Funding, Two New Programs Will Support Clean and Affordable Energy, New Jobs, and Healthier Communities

Washington, D.C. — Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet will join U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Biden Administration leaders at the White House to announce nearly $11 billion in grants and loan opportunities to help rural energy and utility providers bring affordable, reliable clean energy to their communities across the country. This represents the single largest investment in rural electrification since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act in 1936.

“We have no time to waste as families in rural Colorado face high energy costs and the effects of climate-fueled disasters like wildfire and drought. These programs will play a critical role in lowering energy costs, creating local jobs, cutting greenhouse gas emissions, and accelerating the deployment of clean energy for Colorado’s rural communities,” said Bennet.

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to cleaner energy provides rural communities with an affordable and reliable power grid, while supporting thousands of new jobs and helping lower energy costs in the future,” said Vilsack. “These investments will also combat climate change and significantly reduce air and water pollution that put children’s health at risk. The U.S. Department of Agriculture stands ready to partner with municipalities, tribal entities, entrepreneurs, rural electric cooperatives and other utilities to see this transformative investment come to life and create new economic growth and healthier communities.”

These grants and loan opportunities being announced today will be available through two specific programs:

  • $9.7 billion through the Empowering Rural America (New ERA) program for eligible rural electric cooperatives to deploy renewable energy, zero-emission, and carbon capture systems.
  • $1 billion through the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) program in partially-forgivable loans to renewable energy developers and electric service providers to help finance large-scale solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydropower projects, and energy storage in support of renewable energy systems.

In December, Bennet urged USDA Undersecretary for Rural Development Xochitl Torres Small and Rural Utilities Service Administrator Andrew Berke to quickly distribute clean energy funds from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) to rural communities. He also urged USDA to provide clear implementation guidance for the funds and to distribute them in innovative, flexible ways, including to help disadvantaged and economically distressed communities that traditionally lack the resources to access these programs. 

Bennet championed nearly $14 billion in the IRA to accelerate clean energy deployment, create local economic opportunities, and lower costs for families in rural communities – including the nearly $11 billion announced today, as well as $2 billion for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). 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 reap the benefits of the transition to a clean energy economy.