Deputy Under Secretary Roger Glendenning recently announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing zero-interest loans to two rural energy providers to help business and residential customers lower energy use and costs.
“Funding commercial, farm and residential energy efficiency investments supports rural economies,” Glendenning said. “These investments save money for consumers, create jobs in the community and help energy providers better manage costs.”
Included in the program is a $1 million loan to the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council (NOPEC). This is among the first loans USDA is making through RESP. They are being provided through the Electric Program of USDA’s Rural Utilities Service, the successor to the Rural Electrification Administration. The Electric Program makes loans and loan guarantees in rural areas to nonprofit and cooperative associations, public bodies and other utilities to help finance the construction of electric distribution and generation facilities.
NOPEC, a nonprofit regional council of governments, will provide energy improvement loans to small businesses in 206 rural communities across 13 counties in northeast Ohio. USDA’s funds will support NOPEC’s Savings Through Efficiency Program (STEP), which is expected to reduce energy costs for small businesses by 15%.