The $300 million will be made available as loans to help businesses wanting to reduce their energy usage and costs with the aid of energy efficiency equipment and technologies including HVAC and lighting systems.
In a press statement, Tom Vilsack, secretary of the USDA, said the money will be channeled to help small businesses nationwide deploy renewable energy sources through the Rural Energy for America Programme (REAP).
By using energy generated from renewable energy sources, Vilsack said businesses reduce their energy costs by avoiding using energy provided by utility companies during peak periods when electricity demand and costs is high.
Clean energy sources would also allow small businesses to gain extra revenue by selling excess energy to utility firms.
"Cutting our energy waste is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to help families save money on their energy bills while reducing harmful carbon pollution.
"When businesses lower their energy costs, they are also able to expand their services and contribute to stronger local economies," added Vilsack.
The US Department of Agriculture issued over $1bn in loans and funding to help 15,000 businesses in rural communities reduce energy usage and costs since 2009.
When fully operational, the energy efficiency projects are expected to save 9 million MWh per annum, adequate to power 750,000 homes.
According to calculations made by the USDA, the projects will reduce carbon emissions by 5 million metric tonnes each year. [USDA expands utility assistance in rural communities].
In related news, the New York state government announced that it will provide $790,000 for implementation of energy efficiency programmes by municipalities in the mid-Valley region.
The federal government will provide the funding through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) over the next two years.
Municipalities will use the money provided by the state government to replace existing streetlights with energy efficiency LEDs.
By installing LED lights, the state government said it hopes 249 municipalities in the region will reduce energy costs by 65% and save up to $6 million in energy bills per annum.
The project is expected to help in reducing carbon emissions.
The LED streetlights are also expected to help the state in meeting its targets of generating 50% of its energy from renewable energy by 2030.
According to NYSERDA, the installation of the streetlights by the first 20 municipalities to benefit from the funding will reduce carbon emissions by 42,000 metric tonnes over the next 15 years, equivalent to removing 8,840 cars from the road.
The Mid-Hudson Street Light Consortium will administer the initiative. The consortium will help municipalities in installation and maintenance of the streetlights.
The initiative will improve municipality knowledge on streetlights through the implementation of webinars and workshops.
Image credit: www.telegraph.com.