De Smet, SD, Mar 20, 2012 -- Agricultural Secretary Tom Vilsack today released a report highlighting the ways in which USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) contributes to U.S. energy independence and helps businesses and farmers become more energy efficient. The Secretary also reminded eligible farmers, ranchers and rural business owners that the deadline to apply for some types of funding this year is approaching.
The report includes details of noteworthy REAP projects in each state. For instance, Legend Seeds headquartered in De Smet, SD received a $17,035 REAP grant in 2011 for the installation of a biomass boiler. With the boiler, Legend’s energy bill is projected to be reduced by nearly 60%, and the cost to dispose of waste corn will decline also – a win-win situation. USDA Business Program Director Dana Kleinsasser was on-site at Legends Seeds to showcase the successful project.
“The Obama Administration understands that helping our nation become more energy efficient is key to continuing the current economic recovery and reducing our reliance on foreign energy sources,” said Vilsack. “USDA recognizes that renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation programs provide opportunities for economic growth and prosperity in rural America.”
The REAP program is a major part of President Obama’s vision for a new era in American energy policy. This vision is predicated on a strategy that includes homegrown and alternative energy sources. To coincide with the report’s release, Rural Development state offices across the nation are holding events today to demonstrate how REAP helps reduce energy use and supports the development of domestic energy sources.
During the last three years, the REAP program has:
• Supported 5,733 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide;
• Saved 6,500 megawatts of power;
• Provided $192 million in grants and $165 million in loans to business owners;
• Fostered partnerships that have leveraged an additional $271 million from other sources.
REAP was authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill and is operated by USDA’s Rural Development agency. Since the first REAP awards were made in 2003, the program has helped more than 13,000 rural small businesses, saved enough energy to power nearly 600,000 American homes for a year, and funded more than1,000 solar projects and more than 560 wind projects.
REAP is Rural Development’s most successful and competitive renewable energy program. In 2011, grants and loan guarantees funded projects in all 50 States and territories.
Click here to view the full report.
The Rural Energy for America Program provides grants, loan guarantees, and a combination of grants and loan guarantees to rural small businesses and agricultural producers. Funds may be used to purchase renewable energy systems and to make energy efficiency improvements. REAP also provides grants for feasibility studies for renewable systems, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance for agricultural producers and rural small businesses.
Since taking office, President Obama’s 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 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 $165 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.