Temple, Texas, Sep 16, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced loans and grants for more than 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in their operations.
“This funding is an important part of the Obama Administration’s plan to help the nation’s farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses conserve natural resources, create more green jobs and lead us on the path to becoming an energy independent nation,” Vilsack said. “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.”
The grants and loan guarantees 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 today more than $27 million in energy grants and guaranteed loans for projects. Of this amount, $1,057,100 will fund 23 projects in Texas.
“We’re pleased to offer this program to those who want to conserve energy, but are unable to do so without financial assistance,” said Paco Valentin, Texas State Director of USDA Rural Development. “As we continue to find ways to make America more energy independent, the projects this program supports will become more and more important.”
The REAP program is helping many agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption. Fourteen of the projects in Texas announced today will improve energy efficiency in poultry houses. The initial expenditure of $641,131 will net an estimated energy savings of $191,653 per year by either retrofitting existing structures or building new boiler production houses to replace inefficient ones. Two more projects will improve energy efficiency in rural businesses by replacing outdated refrigeration and HVAC equipment while an additional two projects will improve energy efficiency on farms by replacing existing irrigation pumps and installing new power lines.
The REAP program is also funding other types of renewable energy projects. Four recipients in Texas will utilize funding to install photovoltaic solar thermal systems to offset propane energy used to heat poultry houses. The initial investment of $199,000 will net an estimated energy savings of $48,340 per year. One additional project for a marina will involve installing a similar photovoltaic system.
Funding of each of the awards announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project’s cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewable energy and $250,000 for energy efficiency. For a complete listing of Rural Energy for America Program recipients announced today, please visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/RD-REAP20000-aboveSept2011.pdf.
Today's announcement further demonstrates the investments the Obama Administration is making to help create jobs and grow our rural economy.
On September 8, President Obama presented the American Jobs Act in an address to Congress. The purpose of the American Jobs Act is simple: put more people back to work and put more money in the pockets of working Americans. The American Jobs Act is specific, it will put people back to work right now and it won’t add to the deficit. Through a combination of direct spending, such as infrastructure investments, and tax relief, such as an extension of the payroll tax cuts, it will lead to new American jobs.
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.