Maui News

On Earth Day, USDA Invests $18 M in Rural Hawai‘i Energy and Biofuel Infrastructure

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Today, in honor of Earth Day 2021, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Justin Maxson announced the United States Department of Agriculture is investing $487 million in critical infrastructure that will help communities in 45 states (PDF, 595 KB) build back better and stronger while prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship.

USDA is making the investments under the Water and Environmental Program, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program.

“When we invest in accessible and modern climate-smart infrastructure in rural communities, we invest in rebuilding the middle class by creating good-paying jobs,” Maxson said. “The investments we are announcing today demonstrate how the Biden-Harris Administration has put rural communities at the heart of climate action and climate-smart solutions.”

According to Hawaiʻi/Western Pacific State Acting Director and Business Programs Director Denise Salmeron, the USDA Rural Development investments for our rural island communities are vital. “These projects will support our local farmers, fuel distributors and biofuel producers by providing access to cleaner and more affordable higher blends of fuel as well as increasing our renewable energy capabilities which is a priority for our environment.”


Highlights of today’s announcement include investments in:

Biofuel Infrastructure:

USDA is investing $18.4 million in 20 states through the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program (HBIIP) to build infrastructure to help expand the availability of higher-blend renewable fuels. The HBIIP program helps give consumers more environmentally friendly fuel choices when they fill-up at the pump.

  • For example, in Hawaiʻi a $670,270 Rural Development investment for Par Hawaiʻi Refining, LLC will be used to create infrastructure to expand the sales and use of renewable fuels. Par Hawaiʻi Refining LLC is a fuel distribution facility company. This project will consist of installing two 10,000-gallon biodiesel storage tanks, retrofitting a 9,000 bbls storage tank, and infrastructure for barging and truck loading on the islands of Hawaiʻi and Oʻahu. Facility locations impacted by this grant are Hilo and Honolulu. This project projects to increase the amount of biodiesel sold by 4,713,960 gallons per year.  The purpose of this funding program is to assist owners of transportation fueling and fuel distribution facilities in activities designed to expand the sales and use of ethanol and biodiesel.
  • Also in Hawaiʻi, $114,000 for Pacific Biodiesel Technologies, LLC will be used to create infrastructure to expand the sales and use of renewable fuels.  Pacific Biodiesel Technologies, LLC is the owner of 10 or fewer fueling stations. This project will install six dispensers at three fueling stations located in Hawaiʻi. Station’s locations impacted by this grant include Keaʻau, Waikapū, and Honolulu. This project projects to increase the amount of biodiesel sold by 5,268 gallons per year. 
File photo Courtesy of Pacific Biodiesel

Renewable Energy in Rural Communities:

USDA is investing $78 million in renewable energy infrastructure in 30 states through the Rural Energy for America Program. This program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements, and create jobs. Projects financed under this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.

  • For example, $17,537,000 for Mauka Fit One, LLC will be used to assist farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems, and in making energy-efficiency improvements to their operations. This project will construct/operate 6.1 MW Solar Facility located on Oʻahu in the city of Kahuku, Hawaiʻi.

Rural Electric Infrastructure Upgrades:


USDA is investing in loans through the Electric Loan Program to build and improve rural electric infrastructure and connect residents to affordable and dependable power. The Electric Loan Program brings efficient, modern electric infrastructure to rural communities, and finances wind, solar, natural gas, and clean energy production. The program also provides loans to electric utilities to support vegetation management, which helps prevent forest fires.

Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure:

USDA is investing $376 million through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program to modernize rural drinking water and wastewater infrastructure in 31 states. Through its Water and Environmental Programs, USDA funds vital water infrastructure that directly benefits the health, economic vitality, and environment of rural America.

Also announced today were investments in Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaiʻi, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.


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