U.S. Sens. Al Franken, D-Minn., and Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, introduced energy legislation on Monday to be included in the 2013 Farm Bill.
According to Franken, the Rural Energy Investment Act will help farmers, ranchers and rural communities by encouraging the growth of agricultural energy technologies, including biofuels and renewable energies.
The proposal includes the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which Franken included in the 2012 Farm Bill that passed the Senate. Franken says the program helps agriculture producers and businesses in rural areas invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects so they can cut electricity bills and earn additional income by selling the energy they produce.
The proposal includes mandatory REAP funding of $70 million annually through fiscal-year 2018, as well as $70 million annually in discretionary funding for the program during the same period.
In addition, the proposal includes $10 million annually of discretionary funding through fiscal-year 2018 for the Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative. The initiative offers grants to assist community-wide efforts to increase the use of renewable energy sources.