In rural Utah, the effects of climate change are happening at a record pace. People across this state have faced droughts for eight of the last ten years. These extremely dry conditions have led to wildfires that have burned thousands of acres of land, threatening people’s homes and businesses. Climate change has also generated bigger storms on the fire-damaged land, which can lead to landslides and flooding.
Every investment into climate-smart solutions is another step toward improving the quality of life for future generations. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, USDA is putting the people of rural America at the heart of solutions for climate change and renewable energy.
At USDA Rural Development, we are in a unique position to make climate-smart investments in rural infrastructure, and we are working hard to make sure the people affected can access the resources they need to thrive.
Following a disaster, such as a fire, flood, or hurricane, USDA Rural Development’s programs can help rebuild homes and towns to quickly restore a rural community’s dreams. We know that expanding opportunities for clean energy solutions builds community resiliency and helps rural families and individuals maintain their wealth.
USDA Rural Development’s energy loans and grants help heat homes, power cars, and run businesses with renewable energy from wind, solar, and biofuels. This commitment to cleaner energy will help create and protect safe places for kids to play, parks to picnic, and open spaces to enjoy.
Take Vinnie Fassio’s four-generation egg farm in Erda for example, where chicken housing requires a delicate balance of environmental control and ventilation. Hens must be kept at the proper temperature to get the most egg production, and as temperatures continue to rise so does the cost to control the chicken’s climate.
Fassio Egg Farms strives to use the newest technology and methods of producing the best product, and with the large chicken barn roofs, solar panels are a natural solution.
That’s why this past Spring, USDA Rural Development provided Vinnie’s family farm a grant to purchase and install a solar array, saving the farm $42,603 in energy costs annually.
This funding helps the farm create a cleaner and healthier environment, enhances sustainability, promotes a socially responsible product and encourages other farms to use renewable energy in their production.
This kind of support is critical as rural communities face many economic challenges. That’s why President Biden recently signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law to support climate-smart agriculture practices, which will help Utah’s 17,900 farms lead on climate solutions and reward their stewardship.
Through this bill, electric cooperatives, which serve about 58,000 homes, businesses, and other customers in Utah, will for the first time be eligible for direct-pay clean energy tax credits. This historic legislation dedicates investments for rural electric cooperatives to boost resiliency, reliability, and affordability through clean energy and energy efficiency upgrades.
You can learn more about our energy programs and how they benefit agriculture and business in Utah by visiting our website or by calling 801-524-4320.
Michele Weaver is the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development State Director for Utah.