Denver, Colorado, Mar 20, 2012 -- 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’s vision for a new era in American energy policy. This vision is
predicated on a strategy that includes homegrown and alternative energy sources. “REAP is Rural
Development’s most successful and competitive renewable energy and energy efficiency program,” said Jamie
Spakow, Acting Colorado Rural Development State Director. Over the last three years, USDA Rural
Development in Colorado has funded 41 projects totaling over $2.4 million. These investments have supported
renewable energy and energy efficiency projects and generated or saved an estimated 6,876 kilowatt hours of
power. There are three main programs under this program: renewable energy systems, energy efficiency, and
One entity in particular that has been successful in utilizing all three programs in Colorado is Gunnison County
Electric Association (GCEA). “Truly GCEA has made a commitment to energy conservation, energy efficiency
and renewable energy which is evident in their success in receiving funding through this great program,” said
Spakow. In Fiscal Year 2009, GCEA was awarded a $73,890 Renewable Energy Audit Grant to assist rural
small businesses and local agricultural producers with energy audits to identify ways to become more energy
efficient. GCEA provided audit participants with 75% of the cost for the audits and so far the entity has
performed 35 audits for several small businesses such as Rocky Mountain Trees and Landscaping, Freshies
Deli/Anyway Gourmet, and the Slumgullion Gift Gallery.
The following year, in Fiscal Year 2010, GCEA was awarded a $45,789 REAP Energy Efficiency Grant to
make improvements to their headquarters building. “By making improvements to the ceiling and wall
insulation, heaters, installing LED lighting, and energy efficiency windows at their building, GCEA was
able to save over $13,000 annually,” said Spakow.
Last year the entity was also successful in being awarded a $5,366 REAP Grant to assist with the installation of
a wind tower to generate energy to a remotely located radio relay system. “This system is an essential
communication piece to GCEA for public safety in the event of an electric outage,” said Spakow. This project
which was recently completed will benefit the approximately 8,700 rural utility customers. “This addition has
not only helped the electric cooperative but has also generated interest in renewable energy and is a great
demonstration of how it can work,” said Vicki Spencer, GCEA Energy Use Specialist.
The REAP 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.
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.
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.