Montpelier, VT, Nov 17, 2011 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA is funding projects to harness wind, solar, geothermal and hydroelectric power to reduce energy costs for farms and small business across rural America. Funding was also announced to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. Rural Development Deputy Under Secretaries Doug O'Brien and Dallas Tonsager made the announcements on the Secretary's behalf.
In Vermont, Green Mountain Environmental Consulting, Inc of Bennington will receive $49,325 of REAP funding to assist in the installation of a 50 kilowatt micro-hydro system that is expected to generate 436,800 kilowatts of power annually. The $197,300 project is expected to produce enough power to supply 48 average Vermont homes annually. This project represents the first hydro project financed in Vermont by USDA Rural Development.
In addition, Lemington Solar Farm, LLC, and Green Mountain Clean Energy, LLC. received $15,000 and $49,325 respectively to perform feasibility studies. The studies will analyze system design, environmental impacts, resource assessments and the cost effectiveness for the construction of solar and wind powered renewable energy systems.
"The Obama Administration is assisting small businesses, including farmers and ranchers, as they work to reduce their energy costs," O'Brien said of the announcement. "When energy costs are reduced, American rural businesses become more competitive, allowing them to expand and create jobs."
Molly Lambert, USDA Rural Development State Director for Vermont and New Hampshire followed the announcement by stating, "The Obama Administration is committed to making America more energy self-reliant. The REAP program furthers this commitment by encouraging rural businesses to study and build renewable energy systems.” Including today’s announcements, the REAP program has funded a total of 162 projects in Vermont that total just over $34 million in total development and construction costs. Of this amount, $13.46 million has been funded from the REAP program and an additional $21 million dollars of private capital has flowed into project development costs.
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. Visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov for additional information about the agency's programs.
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