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USDA sends $6M to Pennsylvania for solar projects

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(The Center Square) — On the heels of a massive solar investment from the Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will send almost $6 million to fund 31 renewable energy projects across Pennsylvania.

“These projects will lower energy costs, generate new income and create jobs for Pennsylvanian’s farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses,” USDA State Director for Rural Development Bob Morgan said.

A dozen counties will host the projects, about half of them in Lancaster (10) and Bradford (6) Counties.

The money follows a $90 million solar investment on former mining land in Clearfield County that’s expected to generate enough power for 70,000 homes — the state’s largest project to date.

The biggest awards from the USDA grants, $1 million each, will go to a pallet company in Snyder County and a biotech company in York County. Remmey – The Pallet Company will install a 1.5 megawatt solar system, while Biotechnique will add a 1.2 megawatt solar system.

Carlisle Productions in Cumberland County, which operates the fairgrounds and expo center in Carlisle, will get $657,000 for a 749 kilowatt solar system.

Other awardees range from farmers to power equipment manufacturers and a trucking company. Funding for solar projects and energy-efficiency upgrades have been routine for the commonwealth from the USDA.

In January, the federal agency sent $5 million for 34 projects, part of $200 million in awarded grants nationally. Last December, another $1 million went to 17 projects as well. Since 2021, USDA’s Rural Development program has sent $39 million to more than 300 renewable energy projects in Pennsylvania.

The funds come from the Inflation Reduction Act; the USDA argues the spending “(grows) the nation’s economy from the middle out and bottom up by increasing competition in agricultural markets, lowering costs and expanding clean energy.”

Though the money generally goes for solar projects or efficiency upgrades, other projects slip in on occasion. In 2022, the town of Bloomsburg took $500,000 from the USDA to repave four parking lots through a USDA Community Facility Disaster Grant award.

The Inflation Reduction Act has directed $400 billion in subsidies, grants, and loan guarantees for renewable energy projects.