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USDA announces agreement to encourage alternative energy

(Thursday, Oct. 23, 2003 -- CropChoice news) -- Julianne Johnston, AgWeb, 10/22/03: Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to identify and advance cost-effective, voluntary opportunities for rural electric cooperatives to partner with farmers and ranchers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The agreement is part of USDA's efforts to implement President Bush's strategy to reduce America's greenhouse gas intensity - the ratio of emissions to economic output - 18 percent by 2012.

Secretary Veneman and NRECA Chief Executive Officer Glenn English signed the MOU, which emphasizes the potential for taking actions in the communities served by rural cooperatives. It identifies areas for public-private cooperation in research, standards development, and education and it will, by removing technical and market barriers, help increase the use of renewable resources to generate electricity.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development supports the financing of renewable energy systems, and the Bush Administration made $200 million available in loans for this purpose in FY2003. This agreement extends that venture to include USDA research to develop promising new, emission-efficient and renewable energy technologies. Together with NRECA, USDA will jointly pursue education and outreach efforts, including workshops and programs to ensure that farmers and industry understand the latest research.

NRECA will assist member utilities in increasing the use of renewable energy including biomass gasification power plants, waste-to-energy systems, and wind and solar power. NRECA will continue research and development of new technologies and will also explore innovative approaches for integrating renewable electricity to the grid.