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Secretary Vilsack Announces Proposed Rule to Help Utilities Assist Home and Business Owners’ Energy Conservation Efforts

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke with constituents after his Investments in Rural Pennsylvania speech about the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development (RD) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Proposed Energy Efficiency Rule at the Alleghany Electric Cooperative, Inc. Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in Harrisburg, PA on Tuesday, July 17, 2012. USDA photo by Bob Nichols.

As Harrisburg, Penn., temperatures reached 93 degrees on Tuesday and continued to climb throughout the afternoon, it seemed an appropriate time for Secretary Tom Vilsack to announce a new proposed Federal Rule that could help rural homeowners and entrepreneurs save on their utility bills and create jobs in rural areas. The new energy efficiency effort will make federal loans available for rural electric cooperatives to re-lend to electric cooperative customers throughout America who want to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient. The partnership demonstrates a new “pathway to prosperity” according to Secretary Vilsack, and is “a reminder of President Obama’s commitment to stronger rural communities, a stronger rural economy, and strengthening rural values.”

The Secretary unveiled the details of the plan during a meeting with the Pennsylvania Rural Electric Association in downtown Harrisburg—a meeting attended by over 50 residents and businesses. The electric cooperatives, which distribute electricity in rural areas, will manage the loans and will collect payments on utility bills, allowing customers to spread out the loan payments. Homeowners and businesses will be able to seal air leaks and replace inefficient heating and air-conditioning systems through the program.

In addition to helping homeowners and businesses, the energy efficiency program will also create jobs for contractors who retrofit homes to make them more energy efficient and will help to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

USDA Rural Development is accepting comments on the proposed Rule for 60 days. To find out more, click here.  To hear audio of the Secretary’s announcement, click here.

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