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USDA to award grants for rural renewable energy projects

The program aims to provide funds to underserved communities while also expanding renewable energy infrastructure.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Renewable energy has been on the rise here in South Carolina, now accounting for 8% of the state’s power. Solar more specifically, has tripled since 2018 and while infrastructure has been built for larger cities or utility companies, the United States Department of Agriculture is now offering more rural communities the chance to receive funding for their own projects. The Rural Energy Pilot Program will be awarding 10 million dollars in grants to rural communities, state agencies, Native American Tribes, and nonprofits that create plans to install renewable infrastructure.

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The South Carolina State Director of Rural Development for the USDA, Dr. Saundra Glover says that this grant will enable underserved communities better address the needs of their residents.
 “What we are looking for, as we look for the purpose of these awards is to lift our rural communities, provide financial assistance so that our communities can develop renewable energy sources and be responsive to the needs of our communities.”

While the communities involved would likely see benefits from the renewable energy projects, Tim Ellis the Rural Business Cooperative Director with the USDA says that the people in these communities could really see direct impacts from these projects.

"A program like this is very innovative and a good thing about it, when you are talking about low income individuals, a greater portion of their budget is energy costs."

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Applications are open for the grants through April 18th on the USDA website. For more information on the pilot program or to apply you can visit the following link: Rural Energy Pilot Program | Rural Development (usda.gov) 

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