Durbin Talks Renewable Energy for Rural Communities in Agriculture Committee Hearing

Durbin also asked Michael Casper of Jo-Carroll Energy for ideas on expansion of renewable energy in rural communities

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today participated in a Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee hearing entitled “Farm Bill 2023: Rural Development and Energy Programs.” During the hearing, Durbin spoke about benefits of expanding renewable energy into rural communities, including solar panels.

“We just got our utility bill at our home in Springfield, Illinois, for the month of October. I’m pleased to report to you that we are not being charged for any electricity in the month of October…It saved us $100. How did we do that? We installed solar panels two months ago. We are now generating more electricity on my roof than we are using in my home,” Durbin said.

Durbin went on to chronicle a story from his recent meeting with the Illinois Farm Bureau. One Illinois-based hog farmer shared that while he’d like to install solar panels to save money on electricity on his farm, he abandoned the project after his electric co-op determined he also must pay for expensive power line upgrades serving his farm. 

Durbin asked Michael Casper, President and CEO of Jo-Carroll Energy, Inc. located in Elizabeth, Illinois, for his views on how such challenges could be resolved.  

Casper replied that many service utility lines can be decades old and emphasized the importance of greater federal support for grid modernization. 

The Inflation Reduction Act included $2 billion for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants, which will assist farmers in affording solar panels. The legislation also allocated $9.7 billion to help rural electric co-ops build new power generation and transmission, with the greatest potential of reducing greenhouse gases.     

Video of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s remarks is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s remarks is available here for TV Stations.