Chamapign, IL, Jan 20, 2012 -- Contact: Joan Messina (217) 403-6248
Cell: (217) 871-3702
USDA Invites Applications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects
CHAMPAIGN, Ill., January 20, 2012 – USDA has announced another opportunity to go greener and cut energy costs with support from the agency’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The program has helped 290 agricultural producers and rural small businesses in Illinois since it was authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced January 20 that USDA is seeking applications for grants and loans for a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
"Renewable energy development presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” said Vilsack. “This funding will assist rural farmers, ranchers and business owners to build renewable energy projects, providing opportunities for new technologies, create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient."
“We have seen remarkable results in energy savings in rural Illinois,” said USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Callahan. “Our applicants have installed solar panels, geothermal systems, wind turbines and manure digesters. Others have upgraded equipment to more energy efficient models. All these awardees are experiencing energy savings of at least 30 percent.”
“Not only has REAP been good for their bottom line, but the rest of us can enjoy the air and water benefits of greener technology while we chip away at our dependence on imported fuel,” Callahan said.
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs. This year USDA will be able to award at least $12.5 million in grant and approximately $48.5 million in loan guarantees. USDA is accepting the following applications:
§ renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until March 30, 2012;
§ renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications on a continuous basis up to June 29, 2012;
§ renewable energy system feasibility study applications through March 30, 2012; and
§ energy audits and renewable energy development assistance applications through February 21, 2012.
More information on how to apply for funding is available in the January 20, 2012 Federal Register, pages 2948 through 2954. Questions in Illinois can be directed to Mary Warren at Mary.Warren@il.usda.gov or by calling her at (217) 403-6218.
This funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilize our nation's natural resources.
Today, Americans import just over half of our transportation fuels – down from 60 percent when President Obama took office – but we can do more to meet the President’s goal of reducing our net fuel imports by one-third by 2025.
USDA is working to develop the national biofuels industry that produces energy from non-food sources in every region of the country. USDA is conducting and encouraging research into innovative new energy technologies and processes, helping companies build biorefineries – including the first ever commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol facilities – and supporting farmers, ranchers, and businesses taking risks to pursue new opportunities in biofuels. In partnership with other Federal agencies, USDA is establishing an aviation biofuels economy, and has expedited rules and efforts to promote production and commercialization of biofuels.
USDA’s Biorefinery Assistance Program was authorized by Congress under the 2008 Farm Bill. It provides loan guarantees to capitalize on the growing opportunities in renewable energy provided by advanced biofuels. The Program is designed to assist with the commercial deployment of production technologies to produce advanced biofuels, and thereby increase the energy independence of the United States; promote resource conservation, public health, and the environment; diversify markets for agricultural and forestry products and agriculture waste material; create jobs and enhance the economic development of the rural economy.
Rural Development has more than 40 programs that foster growth and economic stability in rural areas by providing affordable financing and technical assistance. Support is available for regional food systems, broadband and biofuel infrastructure, homeownership, business development and community needs. More information on USDA Rural Development programs is available on the web at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il.
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).