Pierre, SD, Feb 16, 2012 -- Hundreds of farmers, ranchers and businesses are making greater profits and slashing energy costs with the USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). State Director Elsie M. Meeks announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance through guarantees and grants to complete a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
The Hobby Shoppe, a retail and craft store located in Winner, SD, received an energy efficiency grant through REAP in 2008. The store replaced furnaces, insulated with spray foam, and lowered the ceiling of the business. The improvements made have yielded an average 36% savings over the past years.
Business owner, Ruth Novotny, said, “The energy saving improvements have helped immensely and have lowered my heating expenses. It has been a life saver, I have been able to expand my business and buy inventory with what I used to pay for fuel oil.”
Under REAP, USDA Rural Development provides financing with grants and loan guarantees. Most rural projects that reduce energy use and result in savings for the agricultural producer or rural small business owner are eligible as energy efficiency projects, including lighting, insulation, or purchase and replacement of equipment with more efficient units. Some use REAP incentives to upgrade to more efficient ventilation, pumps, coolers, insulation, or heating and cooling systems. Others now generate their own energy with solar panels, wind turbines, biogas or biofuels. 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.
Eligible renewable energy projects include production of energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources. The projects can produce any form of energy including; heat, electricity or fuel.
Any rural small business owner or Ag producer seeking financial support to install an alternative energy system or to install an energy efficient system such as new lighting, heaters and air conditioners through the REAP program can call the local USDA Rural Development field office in Pierre for additional information at 605-224-8870 Ext. 4.
USDA Rural Development’s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development, and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at any local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development’s web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/sd/.