The Department of Agriculture published a proposed rule July 26 that would add an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program to the agency’s Rural Utilities Service. Implementing a section of the 2008 farm bill, the program would provide loans to eligible projects such as home energy audits, improvements needed to reduce electricity use, and demand-side management projects to more efficiently control electricity use during peak demand periods. The proposed program would have an estimated maximum funding level of $250 million annually.