Washington, D.C., Nov 04, 2011 -- USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager today announced funding to help reduce energy costs for residents of remote rural areas where the current cost of producing electricity is extremely high. The funds are being provided through USDA’s High Energy Cost Grant program. The announcement was made during the Four Corners Sustainable Futures Tribal Summit in Flagstaff, Ariz.
"In many rural areas, energy costs can be a significant part of household and business expenses,” Tonsager said. “These grants will help home and business owners offset rising energy costs by financing energy efficiency and power generation improvements that will deliver energy more cost-effectively and help the environment."
The program is administered by USDA Rural Development's Rural Utilities Service. Recipients use funds to improve energy generation, transmission or distribution facilities that serve communities where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275 percent of the national average. Grants are available to businesses, non-profit entities, states, local governments and federally recognized Indian tribes.
Sacred Power Corporation, a private Native American-owned firm which serves communities in Arizona, Utah and New Mexico will receive funds to provide improved batteries for solar, wind and propane fueled generation systems that serve the homes of tribal members in remote areas. Dineh Cooperatives, Inc. in Arizona will receive funds for the Black Mesa Solar Project, which focuses on the use of solar energy as a viable solution to meet the energy needs of a remote portion of the Black Mesa and Pinon Chapters within Navajo Country, on the Navajo Reservation. This grant will focus on supplying energy to people in a community consisting mostly of elders who have minimal electricity needs, and their children and grandchildren who tend to require twice the power load. It will center on providing electricity to residents in homes that currently have no electrical service, and supplementing power to existing solar systems for other homes. These proposed systems will generate electricity utilizing photovoltaic solar systems and back-up generators.
The funding announced today totals more than $21 million. Funding for individual recipients is contingent upon their meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. These funds may not be used to pay utility bills, purchase fuel, or be used for the sole benefit of the applicant.
• Alaska Village Initiatives — $443,779
• Gwitchyaa Zhee Utility Company— $3,500,000
• Tlingit Haida Regional Housing Authority--$1,000,000
• Dineh Cooperatives Incorporated — $1,352,000
• Sacred Power Corporation — $2,500,000 (Serving customers in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah)
• Yurok Tribe —$4,959,456
• Hawaii County Economic Opportunity Council — $1,218,791
• University of Maine — $2,617,569
• Marshalls Energy Company —$2,317,388
• Island Economic and Environmental Company — $1,395,525
• Sacred Power Corporation — $395,000 (Serving the Lakota Reservations)
Since taking office, President Obama’s Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses and entrepreneurs creating job opportunities and for people who want to live, work, and raise their families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. More information about USDA Rural Development can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).