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USDA invests $490 million in rural infrastructure

MORGANTOWN — On Earth Day 2021, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship.

USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

This announcement included a $3.6 million investment through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan Program for the Mineral Wells Public Service District in Wood County.

This Rural Development investment will benefit more than 2,500 West Virginians and assist in improving the reliability of Mineral Wells Public Service District’s water supply. Funds will be used to replace transmission and distribution mains, water meters, and hydrants and improve disinfection byproducts controls, supervisory control and data acquisition monitoring and controls, booster stations, tank sites, and the office/garage complex.

Deputy Under Secretary Maxson’s full announcement included:

Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure:

$374 million in investments through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. Through its Water and Environmental Programs, USDA funds vital water infrastructure that directly benefits the health, economic vitality and environment of rural America.

Renewable Energy in Rural Communities:

$78 million in investments for renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.

Rural Electric Infrastructure Upgrades:

$17.4 million in loans in New Mexico and South Dakota through the Electric Loan Program to build and improve rural electric infrastructure and connect residents to affordable and dependable power. The Electric Loan Program brings efficient, modern electric infrastructure to rural communities and finances wind, solar, natural gas and clean energy production. The program also provides loans to electric utilities to support vegetation management, which helps prevent forest fires.

Biofuel Infrastructure:

$18.4 million investment in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels by approximately 218 million gallons per year. This will give consumers more environmentally-friendly fuel choices when they fill-up at the pump.

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