Rural Farmers, Small Businesses Get Renewable and Energy Efficiency Grants

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $27 million in loans and grants for over 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.

The grants and loan guarantees are provided through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a 2008 Farm Bill initiative. REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for small businesses.

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.

A farmer in  Kirkwood, PA., for example, is getting a $309,733 grant to install a co-op digester system. It will generate 879,000 kilowatts of electricity a year from 16,800 tons of dairy, hog and chicken manure, and food waste.  The digester will completely power the farm – which consumes 232,000 kilowatts a year – leaving a tidy profit for the farmer, who will sell the rest to the local utility.  

United Cooperative in Beaver Dam, WI. will receive a $448,500 grant to help with the installation costs of 33 ethanol flex-fuel dispensers and 17 biodiesel dispensers. The Coop offers feed, grain, agronomy and energy products to south-central Wisconsin farmers and consumers.

The Pugliese Contracting Corporation in Windham, N.H. will install a 30 kilowatt solar PV system and a geothermal heating and cooling system for its 8000 square-foot operations center with its $99,500 loan guarantee and a $49,875 grant.

The geothermal system will supply all the business’s heating and cooling needs, and the PV system will produce 63% of its electricity.

REAP grants finance up to 25% of a project’s cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables, and $250,000 for efficiency.

USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees.

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