Hilo, HI, Apr 03, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today's announcement is one part of the Department's efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
"The Obama Administration continues its commitment to help our nation become more energy independent by partnering with agricultural producers and rural small businesses as they build renewable energy systems and reduce energy usage," said Vilsack. "These investments will not only help our farmers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs, but also provide a new potential revenue source and stabilize their operations' bottom lines."
Chris Kanazawa, State Director of USDA Rural Development stated, "The State of Hawaii must enhance its reliance on renewable energy resources. Working in concert with local utility companies efforts in retiring existing less efficient fossil-fired units, we must seek opportunities to add bio-based renewable energy resources. REAP is USDA's flagship renewable energy financing program and has been successfully utilized by several Hawaii based companies to finance energy projects that include biodiesel and photovoltaic production as well as funding energy efficiency initiatives."
REAP, authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, (Farm Bill) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation's critical energy needs. USDA is accepting the following applications:
• Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until April 30, 2013;
• Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications until July 15, 2013;
• Renewable energy system feasibility study grant applications through April 30, 2013.
More information on how to apply for funding is available in the March 29, 2013 Federal Register, pages 19183-19190. You may also contact one of the following individuals for further program assistance:
• East Hawaii and Maui County: Lori Nekoba, 808-933-8312, or firstname.lastname@example.org
• West Hawaii and the Federated States of Micronesia: Denise Oda, 808-933-8323, or email@example.com
• Oahu, Kauai and American Samoa: Shirley Heatherly, (808) 483-8600, ext. 118, or firstname.lastname@example.org
• Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, Republic of Palau and Republic of the Marshall Islands: Tony Barcinas, (671) 330-8567, or Anthony.email@example.com
Since the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill and through the end of Fiscal Year 2012, REAP has funded nationwide over 6,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance projects. In Hawaii, REAP has funded 36 projects for over $1.5 million.
Examples include Surfing Goat Dairy on Maui, who was awarded a REAP grant in the amount of $70,060, a little more than 20 percent of the total project cost. The photovoltaic system of 35.12 kWh was installed on their barn and parking structure. The system is anticipated to generate 67,529 kWh or 104 percent of the energy needs. Jack's Diving Locker in Kailua-Kona was awarded a REAP grant of $5,448 to purchase and install a new LED lighting system, saving over $9,400 annually in electric costs and a $20,000 REAP grant to purchase 29.38 kW photovoltaic system that will provide 53.71% of their energy needs.
These projects are examples of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilization of our nation's natural resources.
The Obama Administration is working to promote domestic production of renewable energy to create jobs, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, combat global warming, and build a stronger rural economy. The President's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns, and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.
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