USDA announces funding for 264 renewable energy projects

By Agri-Pulse staff

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Aug. 7, 2015 - USDA today announced $63 million in loans and grants for 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide that the department is supporting through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

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"This funding will have far-reaching economic and environmental impacts nationwide, particularly in rural communities," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. "Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects supports home-grown energy sources, creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas pollution and helps usher in a more secure energy future for the nation."

The projects are expected to generate and/or save 207.8 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of energy - enough to power more than 13,600 homes for a year, USDA said in the release.

Funding for the projects is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the grant or loan agreement. Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.

The next application deadline for REAP grants is Nov. 2. USDA said it will issue a notice of available funding with more details on how to apply in the coming weeks. REAP was created by the 2008 farm bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 farm bill.

Some examples of funded projects follow:

--Bradley Phillips, owner of A.B. Phillips & Sons Fruit Farm, is receiving an $18,000 grant to install a photovoltaic solar system on his farm in the village of Berlin Heights, Ohio. The system will generate nearly 13,000 kWh of electricity annually. Phillips grows apples, peaches, pears, plums, raspberries, cherries and grapes on a farm that has been in his family for more than a century.

--Blue Sky Poultry Inc., of Bainbridge, Ga., has been selected for a $16,094 grant to install a solar array on the roof of its poultry houses. The array is expected to generate 36,300 kWh of electricity a year.

--Stokes Farms of Chatfield, Minn., is receiving a $19,750 grant to install a 10 kWh wind turbine. When operational, the project is expected to generate 30,000 kWh of electricity per year.

USDA said that since the start of the Obama administration, it has supported more than 9,600 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide through REAP. During this period, the department has provided more than $291 million in grants and $327 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.

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