USDA Announces Program To Help Farmers Cut Energy Costs

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Source: USDA news release

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PDF, 146 KB) to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

“Lowering energy costs helps businesses improve their bottom line and create jobs,” Baxley said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to increasing economic development in rural communities across the country through strong partnerships with rural businesses.”

USDA is providing the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks.

Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. They also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration, for example.

Here are examples of how some of the recipients will use their grants:

• In Utah, Kent Kelly & Associates LC will use a $19,920 grant to replace three refrigeration unit compressors and computer controls with more energy-efficient models. This project is expected to save the company $3,467 per year and lower consumption by 53,280 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The company leases retail space to a grocery store in Brigham City, Utah.

• Treat’s Squire Shop in Plymouth, Ind., is receiving a $1,500 grant to install LED lighting throughout the building. The firm sells men’s clothing and bridal attire. This project will lower energy costs by $4,081 and reduce energy use by 54,911 kWh (76 percent) per year, which is enough electricity to power five homes.

• The University of Oregon will use a $100,000 grant to help rural agritourism operations and small businesses implement renewable energy systems. Working under a contract with the nonprofit Spark Northwest, the university will help install solar photovoltaic, wind, small hydro, biodigester and solar thermal renewable energy systems. Overall, this project will help approximately 40 rural businesses, primarily in the ag sector, reduce their monthly utility bills.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities.

In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

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