USDA is investing $237 million to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses lower energy costs through the Rural Energy for America Program. The department is providing 640 awards to applicants in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific.
“Businesses grow and create more jobs when their energy costs are lower,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy.
Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and to install renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. The funding can also be used to increase energy efficiency by making improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration.
- In Alaska, four commercial fishing boat operators will receive a total of $74,153 to purchase equipment to reduce energy costs and keep their catch fresh. One of the operators, Jasper P. Allbrett, in Sitka, will receive a $48,618 grant to upgrade the insulation of fish holds, pumps, the refrigeration unit’s electrical system and the auxiliary generator on his boat. The REAP grants will save each operator about $5,000 annually and will reduce fuel oil consumption by an estimated 34% per year.
- Vicksburg Forest Products LLC in Vicksburg, Miss., will receive a $250,000 grant to upgrade lighting and make improvements to a compressed air system, which will lower electrical consumption by an estimated 63% a year, enough to power 462 homes.
- Panek Farms, in Albion, N.Y., is receiving a $185,470 grant to purchase and install a 320-kilowatt solar array. The project will save the farm $32,675 each year and replace enough demand to power 36 homes.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.