OPINION: USDA’s clean energy investments support rural Nevadans

Clean Energy

Credit: Getty Images/halbergman

By Lucas Ingvoldstad

May 1, 2024

Celebrating Earth Day, as we did last week, reminds us about the importance of environmental conservation and sustainability, encouraging us to come together and take action for a healthier planet and a brighter future. But it should not be the only time to reflect on the decisions that have been made to address the health of our planet and our state.

On the first day President Biden took office, he signed the United States back into the Paris Agreement. Each day since, the Biden-Harris Administration has continued to deliver on the most ambitious climate agenda in history, including the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), which was signed into law by President Biden in 2022.

Rural access to clean, reliable, and affordable power throughout Nevada and the country is deeply important to the Biden-Harris Administration and the White House. This can directly be seen throughout USDA Rural Development (USDA-RD) via the Powering Affordable Clean Energy Program (PACE) as well as the Empowering Rural American Program (New ERA), each being new programs that were made available from the IRA. Together, these two programs total nearly $11 billion in funding and are the largest investment in rural electrification since President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Rural Electrification Act into law in 1936.

While the New ERA and PACE programs are monumental, the IRA provided additional funding for existing programs, including more than $1 billion for USDA-RD’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which offers small businesses and agricultural producers up to $1 million in grants for renewable energy systems and up to $500,000 in grants for energy efficiency improvements.

 

Related: How to apply for a job in the American Climate Corps

 

In Nevada, USDA-RD has a host of other programs that provide loans and grants for rural hospitals, farms, ranches, small businesses, and residents. But the throughline in all our programs, whether in providing affordable housing, renewable energy funding, or expanding hospitals and clinics, is to ensure that the Nevada we live in today remains accessible for the next generation, and the generation after that. In fact, one of our key priorities and driving principles is addressing climate change and environmental justice, reducing climate pollution, and increasing climate resilience through economic support to rural communities.

Nevadans shouldn’t just be able to find meaningful employment and housing in the towns they’ve grown up in. They should remain confident that their families are able to breathe clean air, have access to clean water, and live and thrive in a healthy community.

Recently, the Reno-based IC Breakout LLC, an electronic-circuit-board manufacturer, was awarded REAP funding which allowed for the opportunity to purchase three 30.72 kilowatt (kW) batteries to power their entirely off-grid manufacturing site. This investment will power the site for the next 19 years, promoting clean energy use while cutting costs year over year.

Another project worthy of celebration is RD-NV’s over $40 million investment in the City of Yerington, constructing a new water and waste system to replace nearly century-old infrastructure. It was estimated Yerington was losing over 26% of its water due to leaks and breaks. As the largest linear investment in our agency’s state history, this massive undertaking represents a commitment to ensure communities not only have safe and sanitary access to water, but also are climate resilient, and equipped with infrastructure to address community needs for decades to come. The new water and sewer system will do just that for over 1,000 existing customers from the City of Yerington and the Yerington Paiute Tribe.

So much incredible progress is continuing to be made daily towards a climate-smart Nevada and the investments we’re making will bring resources to Nevadans throughout rural areas and ensure they continue to have every opportunity to succeed right in their own communities. In Nevada and throughout the country, USDA Rural Development will continue to lead the joint efforts for rural prosperity for all.

  • Lucas Ingvoldstad

    A native Nevadan born and raised in Reno, Lucas Ingvoldstad is the Nevada state director for USDA Rural Development. Ingvoldstad’s professional experience includes public policy, public affairs, legislative relations, stakeholder engagement and business development. Ingvoldstad previously served as the senior director of government and external affairs for a utility-scale renewable energy developer focusing on solar, wind and battery storage projects throughout the Mountain West. In addition, he has served as a senior adviser to U.S. Majority Leader Harry Reid. Ingvoldstad loves spending time with family, is an avid cyclist, and enjoys being outdoors, backyard gardening and cooking.

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