Solar Tribune

USDA Announces New Loans For Solar


The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced the first of $250 million in loans it plans to distribute to rural electric cooperatives through the Energy Efficiency Conservation Loan Program (EECLP.)



EELCP is a new program to assist rural utility customers with energy efficiency upgrades and residential-scale solar installations. According to an announcement released last week: “…The Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program is a new effort allows USDA Rural Utilities Service (RUS) borrowers to implement energy efficiency upgrades for consumers through the use of loans for energy audits and energy efficiency upgrades, including weatherization, HVAC improvements, high efficiency lighting and conversions to more efficient or renewable energy sources, such as consumer-scale solar power and ground source heat pumps.” This is the first time that non-profit utilities serving rural areas can use this USDA financing to make capital investments on the customer’s side of the meter, and the change could have a great deal of potential for customers interested in installing a solar array. This new Energy Efficiency Conservation Loan Program is available only to rural utility providers, and money is loaned at Treasury rate plus 1%.

The first two loans will be awarded to Rural Electric Cooperatives in Arkansas and North Carolina.
North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Inc. will use a loan of $4.6 million to fund primarily energy efficiency measures, as will Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation, which will receive up to $6 million. However, future loans could be used by RECs to assist their customers in the installation of solar equipment, and the loans will be paid back through utility bills. The program is designed to increase economic activity in rural areas, and is expected to improve opportunities for distributed generation in rural area, which often have more potential for wind or solar power than urban dwellers.

For more information, visit USDA.GOV

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