Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Rural communities are critical to building America’s clean energy future. From small towns to farms and ranches, innovation and efficiency are everywhere. People are installing wind turbines and solar panels, retrofitting their buildings for energy efficiency, or building new machinery like anaerobic digesters. Innovative techniques are helping these business leaders become more competitive and cut down carbon pollution. Today, the Midwest is home to six of the top 12 states for wind energy (Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Indiana, & Michigan) and three of the states with the fastest-growing solar job markets (Illinois, Ohio, Minnesota).
The message is out there that the wind and the sun can be harvested alongside grain and livestock. Since 2003, the Farm Bill’s popular Energy Title programs have helped bring clean energy to thousands of farmers, ranchers, rural electric coops, and small businesses across the country. Every year, demand outstrips supply for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), because rural communities want to be part of America’s green energy landscape.
The Rural Energy for America Program — REAP — uniquely accelerates the development of a broad range of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies that serve every state and all of agriculture. REAP provides competitive grants and loan guarantees to cover a portion of project costs. ELPC led the charge to create REAP as part of the Farm Bill’s first-ever clean energy programs in 2002. This program has helped over 19,000 farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses produce clean energy, cut energy costs, and boost rural economic development. The 2019 congressional budget once again passed on a bipartisan basis, appropriating funding for the popular REAP program. But with additional funding and improvement, REAP can provide climate solutions while helping agriculture and rural communities to adapt to, and prosper in, a low carbon future.
ELPC advocates work with a large and diverse group of allies across the country, including commodity groups, clean energy advocates, farmers unions, rural electric coops, and agricultural groups. Together we promote programs in rural communities, track on-the-ground progress, and highlight success stories.
We share the stories of rural America with the public and elected officials, to make sure policies reflect the needs of real communities. Check out our Rural Solar Stories for energy highlights from rural communities across the Midwest.