Department of Energy

DOE and USDA Join Forces to Increase Energy Technology Development and Deployment in Rural America

October 24, 2019

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WASHINGTION, DC – U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes and Deputy Under Secretary Donald LaVoy today announced a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two departments to promote rural energy and the development of technologies that will support and advance rural and agricultural communities and domestic manufacturing.

The newly-signed MOU, which was required under section 6501 of the 2018 Farm Bill, will enhance collaboration and coordination between the Department of Energy (DOE) and USDA. The areas covered by the MOU include facilitating energy-related investments in America's rural communities; streamlining, leveraging and optimizing program resources; encouraging innovation; offering technical assistance to rural communities; strengthening energy-related infrastructure; ensuring affordable and reliable power; and helping rural businesses export energy products and manufactured goods around the world.

“This MOU will do an immeasurable amount of good for our rural communities. Rural America deserves the investments in energy infrastructure, technology, and businesses that will be produced by this MOU,” said DOE Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes. “By working together, DOE and USDA will follow through on President Trump’s promise to emphasize and focus on the needs of these hardworking communities across America in an unprecedented way.”

“Energy creates jobs, supports local infrastructure expansion and provides new opportunities to increase economic development in rural communities,” Deputy Under Secretary LaVoy said. “The bright and innovative minds in rural communities working to develop and utilize new energy technology should know that the Trump Administration supports their mission and efforts to increase prosperity in Rural America. I’m grateful that USDA is partnering with DOE to help farmers, ranchers, foresters and businesses in rural communities thrive.”  

USDA and DOE have convened interagency working groups. The working groups will focus on five major areas: (1) Develop and expand energy- and manufacturing-related businesses, industries and technologies in rural America; (2) Encourage investments in new or improved rural energy infrastructure; (3) Enhance capital access for energy-related businesses and industries in Rural America; (4) Support rural community investments that anticipate growth associated with rural energy investment and development; and (5) Encourage, support and invest in cyber security initiatives and grid improvement. The working groups will be co-chaired by representatives of USDA and DOE. They will meet at least quarterly basis and prepare a report to each Secretary within a year of its first meeting and each year thereafter on actions and projects on which the departments will collaborate.

“Rural, remote, and tribal lands have some of our nation’s greatest energy needs. In Alaska, we have already seen how coordination to deploy new, innovative technologies can reduce reliance on costly diesel fuel, but we have the potential for so much more,” Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chairman of Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee said. “I hope this memorandum of understanding between DOE and USDA will allow for greater coordination and impactful energy solutions for these communities.”

“I’m pleased to see this formal partnership between the DOE and USDA and the recognition of the benefits of potential energy infrastructure projects in rural America. This is an important development for rural West Virginia, the greater Appalachian region, and our entire nation. I look forward to the findings of the working group’s report and will continue working closely with the Administration to ensure the proposed Appalachian Storage Hub becomes a reality,” said Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. The task force recognized that boosting all sources of energy including renewable sources is essential to achieving energy independence, strengthening America’s national security, and bolstering rural America’s economy.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

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