WASHINGTON, DC, Mar 20, 2012 -- Secretary Vilsack Releases Report Highlighting Obama Administration Accomplishments Supporting Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Efforts
Event Held at Heidel Hollow Farms in Germansville Today Showcased a Successful Project
Deadline for Some 2012 Energy Applications Approaches
WASHINGTON, March 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.”
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. To coincide with the report’s release, Pennsylvania’s Rural Development State Office hosted a press conference at Heidel Hollow Farm in Germansville, Lehigh County to demonstrate how REAP helps reduce energy use and supports the development of renewable energy sources. According to Cheryl Cook, Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development, “Heidel Hollow received Rural Energy for America Program grants to install a solar array and new electric motors to compress hay for overseas shipping. They are one of 79 renewable energy projects funded in Pennsylvania since 2009. In total, Rural Development invested over $5.6 million in Pennsylvania energy projects.”
Last week, the Pennsylvania office conducted an energy stakeholder roundtable meeting to highlight Rural Development programs that help businesses conserve energy.
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.
The report includes details of noteworthy REAP projects in each state. For instance, Helene’s Hilltop Orchard, LLC in Merrill, Wis., received a $19,750 REAP grant in 2010 to purchase and install a new photovoltaic system. The owners of the orchard expect the new 13.3 kW solar system will produce 16,226 kWh of power annually and provide 40 percent of the energy the operation uses. The 30-acre orchard produces pumpkins and apples from dwarf size trees. In Fremont, Ohio, First Choice Package received a $35,520 REAP grant in FY 2010 to replace existing lighting in the company’s facility with high-efficiency lighting. Since the new lighting was installed, the company’s electricity usage has declined by more than 1 million kWh.
Click here to find out how REAP is making a difference and saving energy in Pennsylvania.
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).