U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Vermont officials have announced a $46-million loan program that will be used to help Vermonters and small businesses improve energy efficiency.
Vilsack was joined by Democratic U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy and Gov. Peter Shumlin at the announcement Friday in Burlington.
Leahy's office says the project will be carried out by the Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, which will provide long-term, low-interest loans to individuals, small businesses and town governments to support energy improvement projects, such as weatherization improvements, high efficiency lighting or conversion to renewable sources like consumer-scale solar power.
Vilsack said the loan program is an example of government working as it should, and expressed hope that the program spurs investments statewide that could reduce energy waste and emissions.
“This is an opportunity for us at USDA and our great team at Rural Utility Service to send the message that we now have a statewide commitment from a state,” Vilsack said. “That's going to make an impact in the other 49 states where we're trying to get an energy efficiency focus.”
Officials say it's the USDA's largest Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program investment. Loan payments could be collected on utility bills or through other mechanisms, the Energy Investment Corporation explained.
The USDA program has supported similar projects in Arkansas and North Carolina.