As Under Secretary for USDA Rural Development, it is my responsibility to oversee the administration of many of the renewable energy programs included in the 2008 Farm Bill. For example, today we are announcing the availability of funds for the popular “Rural Energy for America” program (REAP).
Getting information about funding opportunities like REAP got easier this week when USDA unveiled its new energy website, which provides stakeholders and prospective applicants fast and efficient access to program information, energy efficiency data and renewable energy data.
One of my favorite parts of the new site is the interactive map. Using your computer, you can click on a State, County or a Congressional District and view the renewable energy investments that have been made by USDA in the area. While Rural Development was a major contributor to this website development effort, it truly was a department-wide endeavor. Because every agency contributed to this undertaking, all USDA energy resources are accessible, including agricultural, forestry, economic and social data.
In addition to the Renewable Energy Investment Map, the site includes the Renewable Energy Tool and an expanded and improved Energy Matrix. The idea is to enable a broad spectrum of users to get the information they need easily. The site was launched just this week and will be improved and updated in response to user comments. I’d encourage you to try it out at www.usda.gov/energy.
This new site and others like it build on Secretary Vilsack’s commitment to develop a modern and efficient USDA service organization as outlined in the “Blueprint for Stronger Service” announced last week. To learn more about our renewable energy efforts, click here.