WASHINGTON, Sept. 16--The Department of Agriculture announced today more than $27 million in loans and grants for more than 500 rural businesses and agricultural producers to incorporate renewable energy processes in their operations.
The grants and loan guarantees are being provided through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a 2008 Farm Bill initiative. REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements.
“We’re looking at all kinds of energy sources and energy improvement projects,” said Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager. “We’re reaching 1,500 to 2,000 projects a year and it’s starting to have a dramatic effect. I think it’s also stimulating a lot of ideas and creativity among people.”
Tonsager said the grants are funding 54 flex-fuel pump projects to install almost 200 flex-fuel pumps. The Obama Administration has set a goal of making 10,000 new flex-fuel pumps available within the next five years, which is five times the number available today.
Despite the Senate Agriculture Appropriations approved FY 2012 bill, which limits REAP funding to $34 million at a $31.5 million cut from FY 2011, Tonsager believes a strong case can be made to Congress to continue funding for REAP, which he said received a wealth more of applicants than USDA can currently fund.
The projects include a variety of energy systems, including digester systems to process manure into methane gas and geothermal heating and cooling systems.
Jay Clifford Sensenig was selected to receive a $309,733 grant to install a co-op digester system that will process annually more than 16,800 tons of dairy, hog and chicken manure from four farms into methane gas, creating more than 879,000 kilowatts per year of electricity. In addition, the digester system is designed to accept and process food waste. The host farm uses 232,000 kilowatts annually; the excess energy produced from the digester will be sold to the local utility.
The REAP grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project's cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables, $250,000 for efficiency. The USDA funding is going to businesses in Puerto Rice and 49 states. For a complete listing of REAP recipients announced today, click here.
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