In December 2013, the Rural Utilities Service (RUS) – Electric Program published the final rule for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program. The final rule implements Section 6101 of the 2008 Farm Bill, and expands the electric program’s ability to make loans for energy efficiency activities (e.g., building weatherization, HVAC upgrades, ground source heat pumps, lighting, small scale renewable generation such as solar and wind, energy audits, soft costs).
The new regulation reduces barriers to investment in energy efficiency and promotes rural economic growth by increasing RUS borrowers’ financing opportunities. Borrowers can either loan the funds to consumers or utilize them to enhance the utility system’s efficiency – supporting businesses and homeowners across rural America. Not only will the efficiency upgrade funding help consumers reduce their monthly energy bills, but it will also reduce greenhouse gases and prevent climate change.
Entities new to the RUS program must be deemed eligible under the Rural Electrification Act, which was created in 1936 to bring electricity to rural areas. Once borrowers are deemed eligible, they may only borrow funds for energy efficiency activities. Potential borrowers should reach out to General Field Representative (GFR) staff or headquarters personnel for guidance on submitting an application. They will need to provide both a business plan and quality assurance plan to support the loan application. To assist with the application process, the RUS Electric Program offers webinars and information sessions with potential borrowers.