Portland, OR, Aug 17, 2011 -- Eco Solar and Electric, a small contractor in Klamath Falls, Oregon, can look forward to saving an estimated $6,800 per year in their energy costs, thanks to a little help through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
The company will use a $14,850 REAP grant to offset more than $59,000 in costs for installation of solar panels on their business headquarters. The company expects to generate 15,840 kilowatt hours annually and recoup the cost of the project in about eight years.
In addition to full-service electrical contracting, Eco Solar and Electric offers energy assessments and solar panel installation.
“We want to walk the walk,” said owner Eric Andrews. Over the past three years, Eco Solar and Electric grew from two to 12 employees, in part because of increased availability of solar technology through a variety of incentives, including the REAP program.
According to Andrews, “There is a great solar resource here in Eastern Oregon. We have a lot of sunshine, and the high altitude and cooler temperatures are ideal for solar energy production.”
The award is one of more than 900 small grants announced today by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to help implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures on farms, ranches and small businesses across the country. Of these, 15 grants amounting to $206,606 are being awarded in Oregon. Additional REAP grants are expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
"These investments enable our farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners to develop renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements that will save them thousands of dollars in energy costs each year," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration's plan to conserve natural resources, create jobs and lead our country on the path to becoming more energy independent."
The grants are being 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. In all, USDA announced more than $11.6 million in energy grants today.
Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. For a complete listing of Rural Energy for America Program grant recipients announced today, please click here.
Today’s announcement is an example of investments the Obama Administration is making to help create jobs and grow the rural economy. In June, President Obama signed an Executive Order establishing the first White House Rural Council, chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House Rural Council will work throughout government to create policies to promote economic prosperity and a high quality of life in our rural communities.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken significant steps to improve the lives of rural Americans and has provided broad support for rural communities. The Obama Administration has set goals of modernizing infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans, expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas, and providing affordable health care. In the long term, these unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.
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. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.