KNOXVILLE, Tenn., Mar 14, 2011 -- Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning, in partnership with USDA Rural Development (RD), has taken a big step into the future, using solar energy to transform itself from an energy consumer into an energy producer. The company was awarded a renewable energy production grant from RD through USDA's Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP).
"Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning is a great partner for USDA’s renewable energy program," said RD State Director Bobby Goode. "Solar installations like this help create good jobs in the renewable energy sector and contribute to the promotion, development and utilization of renewable, domestically produced energy alternatives in Tennessee."
According to the company's owner Gordy Noe, the $36,259 grant from RD covers approximately 25 percent of the total $145,000 project cost. "With the federal tax credits, incentives from our local electric provider and TVA, and the grant from USDA, adding the solar array is a great business decision for us."
The 23.52 kilowatt system is expected to produce more than 29,000 Kilowatt hours per month, enough electricity on average to meet all the needs of the company as well as send residual electricity back into the community electric grid. Most solar panels are currently warranted for 20 years of electricity production. Solar arrays connected to the local electric grid instead of to on site batteries means the annual cost of care and maintenance are minimal.
Others participating in the event included Sustainable Future founder David Bolt and staff, RD Energy Coordinator Will Dodson, RD Knoxville Area Director Jerry Amonett and Area Specialist Chuck Morris.
REAP loan guarantees and grants can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies and energy audits. Grants and low interest energy loans are available to most farms or rural businesses. More information on the REAP program is at www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN-Business.html.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year the agency assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses, investing more than $1.3 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants. More than 86 percent of these investments are in the form of loans that will be paid back. The rest is at work creating jobs, broadening the local tax base and increasing opportunities in education, training, healthcare and public safety.
For more information on USDA Rural Development programs available in Knox County area contact the Rural Development Area Office in Knoxville at 865-523-3338 ext. 4, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 extension 1491, or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410, or call (800) 795 -3272 TDD (615) 783-1397.