The Department of Agriculture plans to distribute some $633 million in loans and grants aimed at bolstering rural power infrastructure and making higher blends of biofuels more available to consumers.

All told, the funding will be split among 791 projects in all 50 states and Puerto Rico. The money is set to flow through five different USDA programs: Community Facilities Disaster Grants, which will receive $195,300; the Electric Loans for Renewable Energy Program ($241.8 million), Rural Energy for America Program ($355.8 million), Rural Energy Savings Program ($32 million) and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program ($3.1 million).

Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack told reporters Friday the funding is aimed at boosting “resiliency, energy efficiency, and biofuel infrastructure.”

Among the projects being funded is an $85.7 million electric infrastructure loan to build a solar photovoltaic farm in Illinois, which USDA said will be used to provide wholesale power to 23 distribution cooperatives in Illinois, Indiana and Missouri.

Vilsack said the biofuels industry could be on the receiving end of additional funding in the “near future.” He said the department is currently working with the White House Office of Management and Budget on the finer points of the $700 million in pending COVID-19 recovery funds for biofuel producers announced in June. 

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“Sometimes it can be a bit frustrating to negotiate with our friends at OMB, but that’s the process,” he said.

Vilsack also said the announcements are “very consistent” with future funding announcements expected following the passage and signing of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure package. That bill included $550 billion in new spending on roads, bridges and the waterway system, and also directed $65 billion toward closing internet service gaps.

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