Rural eConnectivity Program
The Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), hereinafter referred to as ``RUS'' or ``the Agency'' is issuing a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to announce that it is accepting applications for fiscal year 2022 (FY 22) for the Rural eConnectivity Program (the ReConnect Program). In addition, this FOA defines requirements that are determined at the time a funding announcement is published, as outlined in the regulation. As part of this announcement, the Agency is also informing potential applicants and other interested parties about its intention to seek information on a topic that will help inform future funding announcements. More information is located in Section G of this announcement.
Strategic Economic and Community Development Program
The Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development (RD) is seeking applications for the Strategic Economic and Community Development (SECD) priority, as reauthorized by Section 6401of the Agriculture Improvement Act, 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) with modifications, for projects that support multi-jurisdictional and multi-sectoral strategic community investment plans. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the Agency will implement SECD by reserving loan and or grant funds from the appropriations of the programs covered by this funding priority. This notice describes the requirements by which the Agency will consider projects eligible for the covered programs' reserved appropriated funds and the information needed to submit an application.
Standards and Specifications for Timber Products Acceptable for Use by Rural Utilities Service Electric and Telecommunications Borrowers
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), a Rural Development agency of U.S. Department of Agriculture, is issuing a final rule to amend its regulations on Electric and Telecommunications Standards and Specifications for Materials, Equipment and Construction, updates to Bulletin 1728F-700, RUS Specification for Wood Poles, Stubs and Anchor Logs; Bulletin 1728H-701, Specification for Wood Crossarms, Transmission Timbers, and Pole Keys; and Bulletin 1728H-702, Specification for Quality Control and Inspection of Timber Products (Wood Bulletins) to keep RUS standards current with the technology advances and consistent with the industry practice. This final rule incorporates most of the changes from the final rule; request for comments published on June 18, 2019, in the Federal Register. This rule also addresses and takes into consideration public comments received by the Agency regarding regulation changes in the final rule; request for comments on June 18, 2019, as published in the Federal Register and, as a result, incorporates updates and modifications to the final rule.
Badger State Solar, LLC: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Hold a Virtual Public Scoping Meeting on October 26, 2021
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and hold a virtual public scoping meeting in connection with possible impacts related to the Badger State Solar, LLC's Alternating Current solar project (Project). The Project consists of a 149-megawatt photovoltaic Alternating Current solar energy generating facility located on approximately 1,750 acres in the Townships of Jefferson and Oakland, in Jefferson County, Wisconsin. RUS is considering funding this application, thereby making the proposed Project an undertaking subject to review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA). RUS has determined that a loan for the Project would be a federal action and is, therefore, subject to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review.
Next Era Energy LLC, Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting
Notice is hereby given that the Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency within the Department of Agriculture, has prepared and is announcing that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a project proposed by Next Era Energy Inc (NEER), is available for public review and comment. RUS is publishing the Draft EIS to inform interested parties and the general public about the project proposal and to invite the public to comment on the proposed action addressed in the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA and the Rural Utilities Service, Environmental Policies and Procedures and evaluates the potential environmental effects related to providing financial assistance for the NEER, Skeleton Creek Solar and Battery Storage Project, a proposed 250- megawatt (MW) solar array, plus 200-MW/800-megawatt-hour (MWh) storage facility using photovoltaic (PV) modules on private lands in Garfield County. The purpose and need of the proposed Project is to meet the needs of the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC). The Project will allow NextEra to provide the additional generation capacity needed by WFEC to serve electrical needs at a reasonable cost to their member cooperatives. RUS has determined that its action regarding the proposed Project is an undertaking subject to review under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act and its implementing regulation, ``Protection of Historic Properties'' and as part of its broad environmental review process, RUS must take into account the effect of the proposed project on historic properties. RUS is using its procedures for public involvement under NEPA to meet its responsibilities to solicit and consider the views of the public during Section 106 review. Accordingly, comments submitted in response to this Notice will inform RUS decision-making during Section 106 review. As noted in the Federal Register notice announcing the intent to prepare an EIS on March 15, 2021, RUS invited any interested party wishing to participate directly with the agency as a ``consulting party'' in Section 106 review may submit a written request to the RUS contact provided below. RUS will consider, and provide a timely response to, any and all requests for consulting party status.