Lexington, KY, Mar 20, 2012 -- Agriculture 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 rural small 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 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 oil,” Vilsack said. “Stable energy costs are a prime factor in an employer’s decision to expand a business or hire new workers. USDA recognizes that renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation programs provide opportunities for economic growth and prosperity in rural America.”
To coincide with the report’s release, State Director Tom Fern will be in Frankfort today to announce grant funds for a small landscape design business to assist them in their efforts to increase energy-efficiency. Fern will announce that Rural Development has awarded $8,442 to Inside-Out Design to assist in the installation of a hybrid renewable energy system that would reduce energy costs and promote the use of alternative energy technologies. The hybrid system will include an 11-panel, 185-watt, solar photovoltaic system and two-ton, two-state vertical closed-loop geothermal system.
The REAP program is 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. Vilsack said that since President Obama took office three years ago the REAP program has:
• Supported 5,733 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide;
• Generated or saved an estimated 6,500 megawatt hours of power;
• Provided $192 million in grants and $165 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements;
• Fostered partnerships that have leveraged an estimated $800 million from other sources.
REAP was authorized under the 2002 Farm Bill and is administered by USDA Rural Development. Since the first REAP awards were made in 2003, the program has helped more than 13,000 rural small businesses and agricultural producers, 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 and energy efficiency program. In 2011, grants and loan guarantees funded projects in all 50 States and territories.
Click here to find out how REAP is making a difference and saving energy in your state.
The report includes details of noteworthy REAP projects in Kentucky. For instance, Whitakers Food Stores, a family-owned business located in a tiny rural community in Fleming-Neon, was awarded $20,000 in grant funds that will be used to upgrade an overhead lighting system as well as the installation of a waste-heat recovery system.
The store has an outdated lighting system and inefficient refrigeration and freezer equipment that keep the store’s operating costs for energy and maintenance high. The proposed changes will provide a total energy savings of 564,671 kWh per year, which amounts to a 63 percent energy savings compared to the baseline year. The cost savings, based on existing electric rates, comes out to $42,863
The Program provides grants, loan guarantees, and a combination of grants and loan guarantees to rural small businesses and agricultural producers. While applications for REAP guaranteed loans for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements are being accepted through June 29, 2012, applications for REAP grants and loan/grant combinations must be submitted no later than March 30th. 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.
For additional information on how to apply for REAP funding, see Page 2948 of the January 20 Federal Register, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/SupportDocuments/MN-RBS-REAP-AuditNOFA.pdf, or contact your USDA Rural Development state office. A list of these offices is available at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/StateOfficeAddresses.html.
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.
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of Adjudication, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (866) 632-9992 (Toll-free Customer Service), (800) 877-8339 (Local or Federal relay), (866) 377-8642 (Relay voice users).