DOE, USDA Launch RE Project for Farmers - Smart Energy Decisions

Commercial, Sourcing Renewables, Wind  -  February 26, 2024

DOE, USDA Launch RE Project for Farmers

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) launched an initiative to help farmers cut costs and increase income using underutilized renewable technologies including smaller-scale wind projects. 

The USDA set an initial goal of helping 400 individual farmers deploy smaller-scale wind projects using USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) via the Rural and Agricultural Income & Savings from Renewable Energy (RAISE) initiative.

The initial RAISE initiative activities, focused on smaller-scale or distributed wind, are expected to include farmer-owned, smaller-scale wind projects; small-scale hydropower; geothermal; biomass-based; and other clean energy. 

This project is funded by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which provided more than $144 million in grant funding for underutilized technologies through the REAP program. 

The DOE announced $4 million in related funding, including $2.5 million to support the testing, certification and commercialization of the latest distributed wind technologies — including for the agricultural sector — and $1.5 million to support outreach and the identification and development of new business models for farmers to save money and earn income deploying these technologies.

“There is a huge opportunity to power the American heartland with distributed wind resources, and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is tapping into that potential so that all Americans can reap the benefits of the clean transition,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in a statement. “DOE is raising the bar with our partners at USDA — creating jobs, lowering costs and increasing energy independence for farmers and those in rural communities.”

Operating under an existing memorandum of understanding, USDA and DOE have a joint working group overseeing an action plan for the RAISE initiative. DOE has identified advances in certified distributed wind technology that have opened a significant market opportunity, enabling cost-effective investments for farmers and rural communities.  

DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office is seeking proposals for up to $2.5 million under the Distributed Wind Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP), which funds distributed wind technology development, testing, certification, and commercialization. This round of CIP funding includes a specific focus on commercialization of distributed wind turbines for the agricultural sector in support of the RAISE initiative. 

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