Implementation of Telecommunications Provisions of the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018
The Rural Utilities Service, a Rural Development agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), hereinafter referred to as ``RUS'' or ``the Agency,'' published in the Federal Register on September 10, 2021, a final rule with request for comments. This document presents the opportunity for the Agency to provide its responses to the public comments received on the final rule and to confirm the final rule as published.
Announcement of Application Deadlines and Requirements for Section 313A Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Utility Infrastructure Purposes for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), announces the solicitation of applications under the Guarantees for Bonds and Notes Issued for Utility Infrastructure Purposes Program (the 313A Program) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The agency has received $750 million for this purpose in previous years and has a pro-rata share of that amount pursuant to the most recent continuing resolution. The final amount of funding shall be determined by Congressional appropriations. Should additional funding become available this fiscal year, RUS reserves the right to increase the total funds available under this notice. These types of loan guarantees will be made available to qualified applicants to make utility infrastructure loans or to refinance bonds or notes issued for such purposes. This notice is being issued in order to allow applicants sufficient time to leverage financing, prepare and submit their applications, and give the Agency time to process applications within FY 2022. An announcement will be made on the Agency website: https:// www.rd.usda.gov/newsroom/notices-solicitation-applications-no sas regarding any amount received in the FY 2022 appropriations. Successful applications will be selected by the Agency for funding and subsequently awarded. All applicants are responsible for any expenses incurred in developing their applications. The agency welcomes financially feasible proposals which would use funds available under this notice to further finance eligible utilities projects that demonstrably reduce carbon emissions.
Badger State Solar, LLC; Notice of Availability of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement and Notice of Public Meeting
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces that a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a project proposed by Badger State Solar, LLC 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 scope, Proposed Action, and other issues addressed in the Draft EIS. The Draft EIS was prepared in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as amended, Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations for implementing the procedural provisions of NEPA, and RUS, Environmental Policies and Procedures and evaluates the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative environmental effects related to providing financial assistance for the Badger State Solar, LLC's Alternating Current solar project (Project). Badger State Solar intends to request financial assistance from RUS for the Proposed Action and information contained in the EIS will serve as a basis for the decision regarding whether to provide the requested financial assistance. RUS has determined that its action regarding the Proposed Action 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 Action on historic properties. With this notice, RUS invites any affected federal, state, and local agencies, Tribes, and other interested persons to comment on the scope, alternatives, and significant issues to be analyzed in depth in the EIS.
Rural eConnectivity Program; Correction
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) published a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and solicitation of applications in the Federal Register on October 25, 2021, entitled Rural eConnectivity Program (ReConnect Program), announcing its general policy and application procedures for funding under the ReConnect Program established pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018 (which became law on February 15, 2019) which provides loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas. The purpose of this notice is to inform the public of changes made to the ReConnect program and to correct the October notice. The two changes are extending the application window until 11:59 a.m.. Eastern on March 9, 2022 and potentially increasing total level of funding.
OneRD Guaranteed Loan Regulation; Corrections
On December 10, 2021, Rural Development's Rural Business- Cooperative Service, Rural Housing Service, and Rural Utilities Service, agencies of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), published a final rule with comment for the oneRD Guarantee Loan Program (oneRD). The final rule made necessary revisions to the policy and procedures that strengthened the oversight and management of the growing Community Facilities, Water and Waste Disposal, Business and Industry, and Rural Energy for America guarantee portfolios. The final rule had an omission of information in the preamble and contained errors in the amendatory language. This document corrects the final regulation.
Speedway Solar Project: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Hold Public Scoping Meeting on February 2, 2022
The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and to hold a virtual public scoping meeting in connection with possible impacts related to a project proposed by Speedway Solar LLC (Speedway Solar). The primary scope of the EIS is to evaluate the environmental impacts of and alternatives to Speedway Solar's application for financial assistance to develop the Speedway Solar Project (Project), a 199-megawatt (MW) solar array using photovoltaic (PV) modules on private, primarily agricultural lands in Shelby County, Indiana. 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.
Information Collection Activities: Extension of a Currently Approved Information Collection; Comment Request; Settlement of Debt Owed by Electric Borrowers
In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS) announces its' intention to request an extension of a currently approved information collection and invites comments on this information collection.