Montpelier, VT, Feb 07, 2012 -- A few weeks back, in his State of the Union address, President Obama emphasized the importance of American innovation – especially in creating an American energy economy that is built to last. He said: “nowhere is the promise of innovation greater than in American-made energy. Because of federal investments, American renewable energy use has nearly doubled, and thousands of Americans have jobs because of it.” I couldn’t agree more – and I know that Americans are capable of producing – here at home - more of the energy we need to power our homes, businesses, cars and trucks. And when we do it, we’ll create good-paying middle-class jobs.
At USDA we are working every day to fuel renewable energy innovation by assisting hard-working Americans, such as small business owners, farmer and ranchers as they deploy American assets and technology to develop more energy here at home and help us lead the global energy economy. Since 2009, we invested $2.14 million dollars in the State of New Hampshire, to boost energy production and efficiency through our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). These projects funded geothermal, solar hot water, solar electric generation and a variety of energy efficiency projects to bolster the viability of rural businesses.
I am very excited to share with you a new way that USDA is facilitating this innovation and growth. Recently we launched our new USDA Energy Website. This site will make it easier for Americans to have access to USDA energy programs, see where USDA is making investments in renewable energy, and see how those investments are translating into American jobs. This new site will provide the public and stakeholders fast and efficient access to USDA energy efficiency and renewable energy data.
One of my favorite parts of the new site is the interactive map. Using your computer, you can click on a state, county or a congressional district and view the renewable energy investments that have been made by USDA in the area. In addition to the Renewable Energy Investment Map, the site includes the Renewable Energy Tool which will help users identify at the National, state, and county level the logistics, environmental linkages, and economic linkages across feedstock production, renewable energy production and renewable energy demand and distribution.
The site also contains the expanded and improved Energy Matrix which will help users navigate the many USDA energy related programs and initiatives. For example, if you are searching for alternative and affordable energy solutions, funding for projects, available programs and program information, or research and development – the Energy Matrix can help. The idea is to enable a broad spectrum of users to get the information they need easily.
USDA's energy website provides access to all USDA energy resources, including: agricultural, forestry, economic, and social data. The Map, Tool, and Matrix focus on USDA's energy, energy efficiency and renewable energy investments and projects; provide information and data to a broad spectrum of stakeholders; and empower the user with the ability to easily navigate USDA's energy web resources. In addition, the site provides a link to all USDA state and local offices and energy resource coordinators.
This site builds on Secretary Tom Vilsack’s commitment to develop a modern and efficient service organization as outlined in USDA's Blueprint for Stronger Service. This site represents a great step in a coordinated effort to increase public awareness of USDA's energy research, commercialization of new technologies, program delivery, outreach, and education activities. It also provides a form of technical assistance to people thinking about adopting an energy project. The new site replaces a previous site which was established several years ago. To access the site, go to: www.usda.gov/energy .
Working with our colleagues in government and the private sector, the Obama Administration has invested more than $90 billion in clean energy – the largest clean energy investment in our nation’s history. These critical investments have already created or saved hundreds of thousands of jobs across the country and put the United States on a path to double renewable energy generation from 2008 levels by 2012. In fact, since 2008, more than 20,000 megawatts of new electric generating capacity from wind, solar and geothermal energy have come online, increasing installed capacity by more than 70 percent. And last year, for the first time in more than a decade, less than half the oil used by our nation was imported.
At USDA, we are working with farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs around rural America to continue that process. We want to build an American energy industry that embraces all sorts of clean power, and to help support the creation of hundreds of thousands of good jobs and thriving rural economies.