Harrisburg, PA, Nov 10, 2011 -- Local Contact Dawn Knepp 717-237-2286
Contact Weldon Freeman 202-690-1384
Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Recipients for Energy Audits, Renewable Energy Development Assistance, and Feasibility Studies Funding
Harrisburg, Pa. – Nov. 10, 2011 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has selected for funding 67 projects nationwide that are focused on helping rural agricultural producers reduce energy consumption and costs; use renewable energy technologies in their operation; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager made the announcement on behalf of the Secretary while attending the Pennsylvania meeting of the National Rural Electric Association (NRECA).
"The Obama Administration is committed to making America more energy efficient, and in doing so, more competitive by encouraging rural businesses build renewable energy systems," said Tonsager. "The projects announced today will provide rural small businesses and agricultural producers the opportunity to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy system installations. Eligible intermediaries, such as universities, will receive funds to conduct energy audits which will lead to energy savings and initiatives that will reduce energy consumption for years to come.”
Tonsager said that Pennsylvania State University has been selected to receive a $99,676 grant to conduct a statewide initiative that offers technical assistance and workforce solutions through energy audits. Saint Francis University, also in Pennsylvania, was selected to receive $100,000 to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and cost through technical assistance provided by the university.
In Charleston, West Va., the West Virginia Division of Energy has been selected to receive a $100,000 grant to complete 130 energy audits for rural small businesses to help them reduce energy usage and operating costs. Boise State University in Idaho was selected to receive a $100,000 grant to offer energy savings- information and energy audits to more than 1,500 manufacturing-related agricultural producers and small business in the state.
Arbre Farms Corporation in Walkerville, Mich., was selected to receive $7,000 to evaluate the feasibility of installing and operating an anaerobic digester that could produce and use biogas as a substitute for propane to power the farm’s boilers. “Last year, these same feasibility study funds provided through REAP assisted in a tremendous year of anaerobic digester development and are an important first step in a successful renewable energy project,” said Tonsager. “Construction is beginning on four USDA funded digester projects here in Pennsylvania and six digester projects next door in Ohio. These systems will provide additional farm income, contribute to better nutrient management, and produce clean, renewable electricity for tens of thousands of home in the community.”
Today's announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020.
With today’s announcement, USDA is awarding more than $2.4 million in energy audits grants, Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants; and more than $1.2 million to support feasibility study projects.
Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) under the 2008 Farm Bill. REAP loan guarantees and grants can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, renewable energy development assistance and energy audits. More information on the REAP program can be found at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapGrants.html Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions for the grant. Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Developmetn Assistance Recipients in Pennsylvania include:
• The Pennsylvania State University – $99,676
• Saint Francis University – $100,000
Since taking office, the Obama administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council – chaired by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack – the President wants the federal government to be the best possible partner for rural businesses and entrepreneurs creating job opportunities and for people who want to live, work, and raise their families in rural communities.
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 active portfolio of more than $155 billion in affordable 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.
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, SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).