Washington, D.C., Mar 20, 2012 -- For immediate release
USDA ENERGY REPORT RELEASED – MILLIONS INVESTED IN RURAL ENERGY
USDA funds available for regional economic development strategies
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. That is why USDA has partnered with more than 13,000 of America's farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to improve their bottom line by helping them find energy efficient solutions that will spur economic growth and prosperity in rural America."
The REAP program is part of President Obama's all-of-the-above approach to energy that includes increasing domestic oil and gas production, developing new alternative energy sources, and reducing our reliance on oil through energy efficiencies. 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 renewable 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 6.5 million 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 is Rural Development's most successful and competitive renewable energy and energy efficiency program. 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. The 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, feasibility studies for renewable systems, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance for agricultural producers and rural small businesses.
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 by March 30th. For more information on this program in Utah and its application deadlines, contact: Roger Koon, firstname.lastname@example.org (801) 524-4301
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.
Contact: Jamie Welch Jaro, Public Affairs Officer, Jamie.WelchJaro@ut.usda.gov (801) 524-4324