HILO, Hawaii, Nov 15, 2013 -- Chris J. Kanazawa, USDA Rural Development State Director for Hawaii and the Western Pacific, announced the selection of three businesses in Hawaii to receive grants totaling $120,000 through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
"These awards clearly demonstrate the Obama Administration's effort to create a clean energy economy," stated Kanazawa. "The REAP grants will enable owners of rural businesses, farms, and ranches to develop renewable energy systems and improve energy efficiency to save thousands of kilowatt hours of energy annually."
Aumakua Holdings, Inc. dba Maui Brewing Co. - $20,000
The company will use the grant to purchase 16 photovoltaic parking lot light fixtures for the future site of the company's brewpub operations located in the Maui Research and Technology Park. Aumakua Holdings, Inc. (dba Maui Brewing Co.) was incorporated in 2006 and is a small regional craft bewery located on Maui. Sustainability and local agriculture are among the company's founding principles. Maui Brewing Co. brews several beers throughout the year using local agriculture products and always looks to support the local community in many ways. The company currently has 15 employees. This photovoltaic system will help further drive the company's initiative as a "Green Brewery" and additionally provide substantial elelctrical savings that will allow them to remain competitive in the market and provide for additional job creation. "We are honored to be selected as a grant recipient, this will allow us to further strengthen our commitment to sustainability," said Garrett Marrero, owner of Maui Brewing Co. "The solar powered lot lighting is a critical component of our project demonstrating the off-grid capabilities of lot lighting."
AOK Enterprises, Inc. - $60,151
Grant funds will be used to purchase and install a 115.5 kW ground-mounted photovoltaic solar system for AOK Enterprises, Inc., which houses two subsidiary businesses, Volcano's Lava Rock Café and Kilauea General Store, in Volcano, Hawaii. The restaurant and convenience store have been in operation for over 26 years, and is located just outside the Volcanoes National Park, an area visited by over 3 million tourists annually. AOK Enterprises, Inc. has 32 employees. "The support we have been empowered to gather through the USDA grant will not only aide our businesses' new photo-voltaic system but will ultimately help to manifest our goals in creating a community that better incorporates economically sound and environmentally friendly energy alternatives," said Kathy Tripp, AOK Enterprise co-owner and Vice President. "We are thankful and encouraged by this opportunity to generate our own power and hope that in setting this precedent, others may be uplifted to do the same." The system is projected to generate approximately 148,392 kilowatt hours per year, or 73% of the facility's power usage. Total annual savings to the company is expected to be about of $60,000 in electricity costs.
Kahului Service, Inc. dba Lloyd's Kahului Chevron - $39,849
Funds will purchase a 31.9 kW photovoltaic solar system for Kahului Service, Inc. dba Lloyd's Kahului Chevron. Lloyd's Kahului Chevron is a family-owned service station in Kahului on the island of Maui, established in 1989. The company has 10 employees and serves the local community with gasoline, propane, vehical safety inspections, and automobile maintenance. "We would like to thank USDA Rural Development for providing us with this opportunity to venture into sun power as a source for renewable energy," said Roberta Yamamoto, co-owner and Vice President of Lloyd's Kahului Chevron. "Without the grant it would have been financially difficult. We look forward to the operational phase of consuming less fossil fuel energy and doing our part to help save the earth from further global warming." The system is expected to generate 60,874 kilowatt hours per year, and save the company about $24,350 annually in electricity costs.
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized through the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, provides assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to complete a variety of projects. Offering both loan guarantees and grants, the REAP program helps eligible applicants install renewable energy systems such as solar panels or anaerobic digesters, make energy efficiency improvements such as installing irrigation pumps or replacing ventilation systems, and conduct energy audits and feasibility studies.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of USDA programs for rural America. A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy. He said that's just one reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill done as soon as possible.
President Obama'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.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $172 billion in 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.
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