Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Thursday that USDA is investing $464 million to build or improve renewable energy infrastructure and to help rural communities, agricultural producers and businesses lower energy costs in 48 states and Puerto Rico. USDA is financing $129 million of these investments through the Rural Energy for America Program and $335 million through the Electric Loan Program.
Among the investments announced, Red Trail Energy in North Dakota will use a $25 million loan to build a carbon-capture processing and storage facility at an ethanol manufacturing facility. The project will provide a 40 to 50 percent reduction in the carbon intensity score of ethanol the company produces. It also will enable the company to distribute ethanol to low-carbon fuel standard markets.
Secretary Vilsack was asked about aid for biofuel producers affected by the pandemic last year. “We are in the process of finalizing plans to provide $700 million assistance to the biofuel industry because they didn’t receive benefits under previous COVID packages,” said Vilsack. However, he explained, these things take time and he can’t commit to when it might happen because he is not in control of the whole process.
“The first thing you have to do is write the rules,” he said. “Once you make that decision…then you have to go to OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. We don’t have the capacity to spend a single dime unless OMB signs off on it.”
Listen to Vilsack’s remarks here:USDA Announces Renewable Energy Investments (14:55)