USDA Falls Short on Wind Powerby U.S. Government Accountability Office
Guest Comment, Capital Press, October 8, 2004
USDA has not fully utilized all of the farm bill’s renewable energy provisions to promote wind power development on farms and in rural communities. For the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program — the key program for supporting wind power and other renewable energy initiatives — USDA offered grants totaling $7.4 million for 35 wind power projects in eight states in fiscal year 2003, the program’s first year, but it has not implemented the loan and loan-guarantee components of the program.
Without the latter, USDA has not fully fulfilled farm bill provisions and limits the ability of the program to promote renewable energy sources. For example, USDA budget documents indicate that the addition of loans and loan guarantees would increase the program level to about $200 million annually. Direct loans would be made from funds borrowed from the U.S. Treasury. Guaranteed loans would be made from funds loaned by banks and other private lending institutions.
The Government Accountability Office made these remarks in its report, “Renewable Energy: Wind Power’s Contribution to Electric Power Generation and Impact on Farms and Rural Communities.”
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