March 28, 2024

Interpretive Summary: The Rural and Agricultural Income and Savings from Renewable Energy initiative is introduced

The Rural and Agricultural Income and Savings from Renewable Energy initiative is introduced 

By: Sydney Sheffield 

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the United States Department of Energy (DOE) have launched a new program to help farmers cut costs and increase income using underutilized renewable technologies including smaller-scale wind projects. The Rural and Agricultural Income & Savings from Renewable Energy (RAISE) initiative will help 400 individual farmers deploy smaller-scale wind projects using USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). 

“Today’s announcement furthers the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to rebuild our nation’s economy from the middle out and bottom up by increasing income and opportunities for the small and mid-sized farmers that keep rural main streets vibrant,” said USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack. “By strengthening our longstanding partnership with DOE through the RAISE initiative, USDA is ensuring farmers and hardworking Americans everywhere have the opportunity to save money and earn income from smaller scale, distributed renewable energy technologies. These investments will create long-lasting economic benefits for their families, businesses, and communities for years to come.”

The RAISE activities will focus on smaller-scale or distributed wind, such as the following: 

  • USDA providing additional technical assistance to support applications for the use of the $144.75 million in grant funding from the Inflation Reduction Act for REAP underutilized technology projects, including but not limited to farmer-owned smaller-scale wind projects, small-scale hydropower, geothermal, biomass-based, and other clean energy. DOE also intends to prioritize technical assistance for smaller-scale wind projects through various programs.
  • DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office funding $1.5 million for research into and outreach on new business models for collaborations of farmers to earn income from distributed wind, including through farm associations that could administer it with fee-for-service models.
  • DOE’s Wind Energy Technologies Office calling for proposals for up to $2.5 million under the Distributed Wind Competitiveness Improvement Project (CIP), which funds distributed wind technology development, testing, certification, and commercialization. CIP provides support to U.S. component suppliers and manufacturers of small- and medium-sized wind turbines. For the first time, this round of CIP funding includes a specific focus on the commercialization of distributed wind turbines for the agricultural sector in support of the RAISE initiative.
  • USDA and DOE hosting a joint webinar series to provide information to farmers, rural electric cooperatives, farm associations, and small-scale, distributed wind providers about our programs and how to use them to develop place-based wind projects. The first webinar in the series launched a new National Distributed Wind Network and Resource Hub on March 14, 2024.
  • USDA and DOE developing a farmer’s guide to distributed wind power that will include technical, economic, and geospatial analysis regarding distributed wind technologies and applications as well as ways to finance smaller-scale wind projects.

“There is a huge opportunity to power the American heartland with distributed wind resources, and President Biden’s Investing in America agenda is tapping into that potential so that all Americans can reap the benefits of the clean transition,” said the US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “DOE is raising the bar with our partners at USDA—creating jobs, lowering costs, and increasing energy independence for farmers and those in rural communities.”

Learn more about the program here