Press Release

Appalachian Voices denounces proposed cuts to rural energy programs

June 14, 2023

Chelsea Barnes, Director of Government Affairs and Strategy, (614) 205-6424,

Today, the House Committee on Appropriations passed a Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture and other programs that would rescind billions of dollars from key programs that fund clean energy investments in rural America.

The appropriations bill would claw back $500 million from the long-standing Rural Energy for America Program or REAP, as well as $1 billion from the recently-enacted Empowering Rural America or New ERA Program, both provided in the Inflation Reduction Act enacted in 2022. These programs are poised to rapidly expand clean energy jobs and reduce climate-altering pollution in areas including rural Appalachian communities by providing grants and loans to rural electric cooperatives, farmers, small businesses and nonprofits. The committee also voted to restrict annual REAP funding to loan guarantees instead of grant funding, which makes the funding more difficult for small businesses and farmers to access.

The Rural Energy for America Program has supported small businesses and farmers with funding for energy projects for more than 20 years, with a successful track record of supporting more than 22,000 projects related to on-site energy generation and energy efficiency. The Inflation Reduction Act provided an additional $820.25 million for REAP through FY2031, most of which would be rescinded under the House appropriations bill.

The New ERA program provides funding for long-term resiliency, reliability, and affordability of rural electric systems to achieve emissions reductions through low-cost loans, grants, loan modifications and other financial assistance. At the funding levels provided in the Inflation Reduction Act, New ERA is estimated to create more than 90,000 jobs over the next 10 years.

Statement by Tennessee Program Manager Brianna Knisley:
“Rolling back funding for these crucial programs just as rural electric cooperatives, utilities and other entities are preparing applications is like pulling the rug out from under rural communities who will benefit from these long-awaited investments in rural energy infrastructure. Rural Americans deserve reliable, affordable electricity and the clean energy jobs supported by the New ERA and REAP programs.”

Statement by Director of Government Affairs and Strategy Chelsea Barnes:
“We urge members of the House of Representatives to reject this harmful appropriations bill, and pass legislation that retains funding for the Department of Agriculture’s clean energy programs.”


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