USDA awards $27M in Renewable Energy Grants and Loan Guarantees
September 23, 2011 | Andrew Burger
More than 500 agricultural producers and small rural businesses across the US will benefit from more than $27 million worth of federal grants and loan guarantees awarded by the Dept. of Agriculture under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), established following passage of the 2008 Farm Bill initiative.
REAP provides funding and financial support for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to buy and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. REAP grants can finance up to 25% of a project’s cost and are capped at $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.
“This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration’s plan to help the nation’s farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses conserve natural resources, create more green jobs and lead us on the path to becoming an energy independent nation,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said as he announced the awards.
“These projects are in addition to the more than 900 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects recently announced during the President’s Rural Economic Forum.”
Kirkwood, Pa. dairy, hog and chicken farmer Jay Clifford Sensenig was awarded a grant of nearly $310,000 to install a co-op anaerobic digester system that will process more than 16,800 tons of manure from four farms as well as food waste into methane gas, turning it into more than 879,000 kilowatts (kW) per year of electricity. As the host farm consumes 232,000 of those kilowatts per year, some 647,000 kWs a year will be sold to the local utility.
Beaver Dam, Wis. United Cooperative was awarded a $448,500 grant to support installation of 33 ethanol flex-fuel and 17 biodiesel dispensers. The co-op offers feed, grain, agronomy and energy products to farmers and consumers in south-central Wisconsin.
The Obama Administration has committed to supporting the building out of alternative, flex-fuel and biofuel distribution outlets nationwide, setting a goal of making 10,000 new flex-fuel pumps available to American motorists within the next five years.
The REAP awards will also help finance the installation of other types of clean, renewable energy systems across the nation’s agricultural sector. Windham, N.H.’s Pugliese Contracting Corp. was granted a $99,500 loan guarantee and a grant of nearly $50,000 to purchase and install a 30-kilowatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system and a geothermal heating and cooling system in its 8,000-square foot operations center. The system will reduce the center’s energy expenses by 63%, with the geothermal system providing 100% of its heating and cooling needs.
A complete listing of the REAP award announced Sept. 16 is available via this link.