County News

New USDA program would cut energy costs for rural families

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Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced the creation of a new program that will help rural residents save money on utility bills while conserving energy. Through the Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP), USDA has allocated $52 million in loans for energy providers to help rural families and small businesses reduce costs through energy conservation.

Funding through the program will allow rural energy providers to fund energy-efficiency improvements on homes or small businesses. According to USDA, RESP borrowers will be able to finance loans at zero percent interest for up to 20 years, making the program an attractive and affordable option to finance energy-saving measures. Energy customers participating in programs financed through RESP will then repay the loans at an interest rate of up to 3 percent for up to 10 years through their electric bills.

The Rural Energy Savings Program was authorized by Congress through the 2014 Farm Bill and will be administered through USDA’s Rural Utilities Service

To be considered for RESP funding, applicants should submit a letter of intent by Aug. 5. Email the letter to Applications will be processed on a first-come-first-served basis until funds are expended.

“Investments like the ones we will make through the Rural Energy Savings Program not only reduce energy costs for consumers, but also build a cleaner and more sustainable energy future,” Vilsack said. “This program is the latest of many financing options USDA provides to rural communities to expand energy efficiency efforts and strengthen rural economies.” 

For additional information, please contact Arthur Scott, associate legislative director, at 202.942.4230 or

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About Arthur Scott (Full Bio)

Associate Legislative Director – Political Outreach Manager

Arthur Scott serves as Associate Legislative Director for NACo’s Agriculture and Rural Affairs portfolio, lobbying on a broad range of issues facing rural counties. Arthur also serves as Political Outreach Manager for NACo developing and leveraging strategic partnerships to help address key county priorities in Congress and the Administration.