PRIMM SPRINGS, Tenn., Mar 20, 2012 -- Reducing costs and increasing income are cornerstones for any solid business plan. One family owned equestrian farm in Middle Tennessee is going a step farther using solar energy to reduce costs while also helping the environment.
USDA Rural Development (RD) State Director Bobby Goode today joined Hardscuffle Farms owners Mike and Sharon Weesner to see the results of a USDA Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant of $19,073.
"Helping rural small businesses take advantage of money-saving, environmentally responsible systems helps reduce operating costs while also helping the environment," said Goode. "Equally important, these investments help create good jobs in the renewable energy sector and promote the development and use of renewable, American-made energy alternatives."
"This is a new era in American energy," said Goode. "The new economy is built to last because it's fueled by homegrown, alternative energy sources," said Goode. "Thanks in part to the thousands of small investments like this; the United States has already nearly doubled renewable energy generation from wind, solar and geothermal sources since 2008."
USDA Rural Development is helping build a cleaner, more secure and a more sustainable domestic energy sector for future generations. Through REAP and other programs, USDA has already helped approximately 13,000 rural small businesses, farmers, and ranchers improve their bottom line by installing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions that will save the more than enough energy to meet the annual power needs of households in a city the size of Nashville, Washington, D.C. or Portland, Oregon.
The Tennessee Solar Institute contributed $59,290 and Tennessee Valley Authority Generation Partners an additional $1,000 to construct the $160,818 solar array on a barn at Hardscuffle Farms. The 29.645 kW Solar Photovoltaic System is expected to produce 2,784 kWh per month, far exceeding the current 725 kWh typical used by the Weesners, making the farm completely energy independent and adding additional electricity to the regional electric grid.
REAP grants and low interest energy loans are available to most farms and rural businesses for up to 25 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing energy producing systems and for making energy-saving efficiency improvements. More information on the REAP program is at www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN-Energy.html.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, homeownership and affordable rental housing in rural communities. Last year the agency assisted tens of thousands of Tennessee families and businesses, investing more than $737 million through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in south central Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office in Lawrenceburg at 931-762-6913 Ext. 4, toll free at 1-800-342-3149 ext. 1494 or online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/tn.
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