The USDA awarded two rural energy providers with zero-interest rural energy savings loans totaling $14 million, according to its May 10 public statement. This marks the first loans made under the USDA’s Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP), which finances energy efficiency projects for rural families and businesses.
According to USDA Acting Deputy Under Secretary Roger Glendenning, ”Funding commercial, farm and residential energy efficiency investments supports rural economies. These investments save money for consumers, create jobs in the community and help energy providers better manage costs.”
NOPEC’s $1 Million
The USDA awarded the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC) with a zero-interest loan of $1 million. NOPEC is a nonprofit council of governments and the largest government energy aggregator providing electricity and natural gas in Northeast Ohio.
The electricity provider will use the USDA loan to fund its Savings Through Efficiency Program that aims to reduce energy costs for small businesses by 15%.
$13 Million for KW Savings
Another recipient of an RESP loan is South Carolina-based KW Savings Co. The non-profit organization will receive $13 million from the USDA for its energy efficiency projects.
Specifically, KW Savings will funnel the USDA funding to rural electric cooperatives (co-ops) that run “ Help My House“. This program aims to help consumers save on energy costs through behind-the-meter technologies, improvements, and measures.
The participating co-ops are Aiken Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Broad River Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Little River Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Santee Electric Cooperative, Inc.; and Tri-County Electric Cooperative, Inc.
About USDA’s Rural Energy Savings Loans
The program provides loans to eligible borrowers of the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) that will develop and implement energy efficiency projects for families and businesses in the rural areas to reduce their energy costs and use.
Rural Energy Savings Loans can be repaid in 20 years at zero interest rate as in the loans awarded above. Other loans relent to qualified end-users can be repaid in 10 years with an interest rate of up to 3%.
The $14-million loans will be provided through the RUS’s Electric Program, which offers loans and loan guarantees for nonprofit organizations, co-ops, public bodies and utilities so they can construct electric distribution and generation facilities in rural areas.