News Release
Release No.STELPRD4016889
ContactDavid Glasgow615-783-1300
SECRETARY VILSACK ANNOUNCES 22 RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROJECTS IN TENNESSEE, 450 NATIONWIDE
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina, Jun 25, 2012 --

@@Secretary Vilsack Announces 22 Renewable Energy and

Energy Efficiency Projects in Tennessee

450 Nationwide

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina, June 25, 2012 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA has selected for funding 450 projects nationwide, including 22 in Tennessee, to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and use renewable energy technology in their operation. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), part of the 2008 Farm Bill.

Tennessee small business owner Rick Alexander is using a $46,305 REAP grant and investing another $325,000 to create the first solar powered business in Maury County. Electricity is the largest expense for the climate controlled storage facility he built as a creative re-use of a former furniture building in the downtown business district. The 260 panel, 60 kW solar photovoltaic system is expected to generate more than 71,000 kWh, enough electricity to meet over half of the energy needs of his business for the next two decades.

By also participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Generation Partners program through Columbia Power and Water, Alexander earns a premium on each clean kW produced, more than enough to cover the average monthly cost of electricity for his businesses. A list of Tennessee projects included in today’s announcement is attached.

REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for businesses. In all, USDA announced nearly $7.4 million in energy grants today.

Vilsack made the announcement while touring Metrolina Greenhouses, a family-owned plant and services company in Huntersville, NC, that has received a REAP guaranteed loan and three grants totaling over $1 million since 2007. In addition to heating Metrolina’s greenhouses, using wood chips in the boiler provides an additional market for local lumber mills and logging operations.

“This is part of the Administration’s “all of the above” energy strategy. Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America,” said Vilsack. “The Obama Administration and USDA are helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners reduce energy costs and consumption – and by doing so help them create jobs, preserve our natural resources, protect the environment and strengthen the bottom line for businesses.”

Today’s announcement also includes $412,304 in grant funding to 20 agricultural producers and rural businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. For example, in Washington, the Port Angles Hardwood, has been selected to receive a grant to study the feasibility of installing a woody biomass co-generation system. If the project is feasible, all biomass mill residuals are estimated to be consumed, and no biomass will have to be sent to a landfill.

A complete listing of Rural Energy for America Program grant recipients announced today, click here.

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, the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities. The Council is working to break down silos, find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs, and work closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support.

USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last three years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $2.5 Billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.

For more information on Rural Development programs available in Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office that serves your county, www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN-Contacts.html, or call toll free at 800-342-3149.

#

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).