The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced it has funded two loans in Arkansas and North Carolina under the new Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program, designed to help consumers reduce energy bills through energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems.
"These loans to North Arkansas Electric Cooperative and Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation are a landmark in our efforts to promote rural economic growth, while reducing greenhouse gases," said Vilsack. "This program supports the President's Climate Action Plan and reduces barriers to investment in energy efficiency, cutting business and residential energy use. This is an historic new bond in the partnership between USDA and our rural electric cooperatives."
The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program allows USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) borrowers to implement energy efficiency upgrades for consumers through the use of loans for energy audits and energy efficiency upgrades, including weatherization, HVAC improvements, high efficiency lighting and conversions to more efficient or renewable energy sources, such as consumer-scale solar power and ground source heat pumps.
The new energy efficiency loan program is aligned with USDA's Rural Economic Development Energy Efficiency (REDEEE) effort, which is designed to create jobs in the energy efficiency industry, and builds upon the work that Rural Development has done in providing funding and support for improving the energy efficiency of single and multi-family housing, businesses, farms, and utility companies. Rural electric cooperatives' experience demonstrates that energy efficiency measures can help address growing electricity demand and significantly reduce energy use. Business and residential consumers may not invest in energy efficiency or renewable energy systems because they lack access to capital or financing. This new loan program is designed to expand access to energy efficiency funding.
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