LENOIR CITY, Tenn., Oct 07, 2011 -- Cutting the cost of a business' energy consumption can make a big difference to a company's bottom line, especially over time. Reducing the carbon footprint is just a bonus for the rest of us.
Today, five companies in Loudon and Knox Counties took a big collective step forward as Rep. Jimmy Duncan and USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode announced federal financing for renewable energy systems at Wampler's Farm Sausage, Family Brands International, Greater Growth, McFarland Pharmacy and Apothecary, and Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning.
"Wampler’s has a great future," said Congressman Duncan. "East Tennessee has a great future and I congratulate you on the past 75 years and I believe doing progressive things like this will give you an even better future for the next 75 years."
A low-interest loan and five grants were awarded to the five companies under the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) designed to help rural businesses and farmers take advantage of advances in renewable energy production and energy efficiency improvements. REAP funds may also be used to study the feasibility and audit the value of proposed renewable energy production projects. REAP grants may be used to cover up to 25 percent of most costs to buy and install renewable energy systems.
"Helping rural businesses take advantage of money-saving, environmentally responsible systems helps them stay in business," said Goode. "Just as good, these investments also help create good jobs in the renewable energy sector and promotes the development and use of renewable, American-made energy alternatives."
Wampler’s Farm Sausage Company received a $250,000 REAP grant and a $1,230,585 low-interest loan that will be combined with $866,089 from the company to install a 500 KW Photovoltaic System consisting of 2,240 solar panels and two electric inverters.
McFarland Pharmacy and Apothecary received a $46,875 REAP grant that will be combined with $75,000 from the state and $65,625 from the company to install a 29.61 KW Photovoltaic System that will consist of 126 solar panels and one electric inverter.
Family Brands International received a $46,875 REAP grant that will be combined with $75,000 from the state and $65,625 from the company to install a 29.61 KW Photovoltaic System that will consist of 126 large solar panels and one electric inverter.
Greater Growth received an $18,123 REAP grant that will be combined with a $1,000 grant from the Tennessee Valley Authority and $53,369 from the company to buy and install a 9.55 KW Photovoltaic System that will consist of 250 solar panels and three electric inverters.
Pioneer Heating and Air Conditioning of Knox County received an $11,250 REAP grant that will be combined with $33,750 from the company to install a Geothermal Heating and Cooling System to offset heating and cooling costs in the company's warehouse and office facility.
Over the last five years Wampler's has already installed a cutting edge waste water treatment system, a smaller commercial Solar PV System and implemented a recycled-material program. According to CEO Ted Wampler, Jr., each of these projects has reduced costs for the company while improving the environment. This commitment to green practices has also established the third generation family-owned Wampler’s nationally as an innovative, environmentally-responsible company.
The new solar array at Wamplers is expected to generate about half the energy needed to operate the commercial ovens, refrigeration and other electricity needs. All together the energy expected to be produced by the five projects announced today is expected to reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of more than 60,100 gallons of gasoline, 1,200 barrels of oil or the average electricity consumed by more than 64 homes in the U.S.
According to company officials the benefits of these public-private partnership investments also extend across the state. The SHARP solar panels are manufactured in Memphis with special glass manufactured by AGC Flat Glass North America in Kingsport, Tenn.
Others participating in the event included Sen. Lamar Alexander's Representative Heather Downs, State Representative Jimmy Matlock, State Representative Julia Hurley, Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens, Tennessee Valley Authority Representative Aaron Stewart, Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group Manager Justin Redd, Ted Sr., Ted Jr., John Ed, Harry, Francis and Sherry Wampler, RD Energy Coordinator Will Dodson, RD Area Director Jerry Amonett and RD Area Specialist Chuck Morris.
REAP grants and low interest energy loans are available to most farms and rural businesses. More information on the REAP program is at www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN-Business.html.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, businesses, community infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year Rural Development assisted more than 1.5 million rural Tennessee families and businesses with more than $1.06 billion in financial assistance through affordable loans, loan-guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in the Loudon 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 http://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.