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.
ELPC led the charge to create the Farm Bill’s first-ever clean energy programs in 2002. The programs that year included more than $400 million for clean energy development in rural communities. Since then, ELPC has continued to provide a national leadership role in these efforts, and the 2019 congressional budget once again passed on a bipartisan basis, appropriating funding for the popular REAP program. In total, REAP will provide more than $800 million for clean energy development in rural communities nationwide over the next 18 years, leveraging over $5 billion in private investment.
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.