Bangor, ME, Nov 08, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for 424 projects across the nation that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, and use renewable energy technologies in their operations.
"Authorized by the now-expired 2008 Farm Bill, The Rural Energy for America Program helps agricultural producers and rural small business owners reduce fossil fuel use by promoting renewable energy sources and technologies," Vilsack said. "Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in Rural America. As part of the President's 'all of the above' energy strategy, REAP not only strengthens the bottom line for businesses, it also helps preserve this country's natural resources."
In Maine, Freedom Falls, LLC in Freedom, has been selected to receive a Rural Energy for America Grant in the amount of $49,500 to assist in installing a hydropower renewable energy system at the dam. The power generated will be used to run the mill and provide electricity to current and future tenants of the mill building. Any excess power generated will be sold back to Central Maine Power. A restaurant will occupy the main floor of the facility while The Mill School occupies the western additions and the second floor and the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets is in an office in the northern addition.
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, "I am pleased that USDA Rural Development can support Freedom Falls through the REAP Program, investing in small hydropower project at a historic site, while helping to provide clean renewable energy for its tenants including a restaurant, a school, and a non-profit organization."
Freedom Falls, LLC Owner Tony Grassi said, "This grant will enable Freedom Falls, LLC to move forward with the installation of a small hydropower facility. This system will run exclusively on green power, with no impact on the environment, and provide clean renewable energy back to the grid."
Vilsack noted that today's funding announcement is another reminder of the importance of Farm Bill programs for the economic vitality of rural America, and a compelling reason why Congress must get a comprehensive Food, Farm and Jobs Bill passed as soon as possible.
A comprehensive new Food, Farm and Jobs Bill would further expand the rural economy, Vilsack added.
The Rural Energy for America Program offers financial assistance to farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other private funding sources for businesses.
Under REAP, up to 25 percent of an eligible renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvement project can be funded through a grant, and additional support can be provided in the form of a loan guarantee. Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped fund more than 8,250 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.
View the list of recipients announced today under the Rural Energy for America Program. Each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant or loan agreement.
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 Rural Development has Area Offices located in Presque Isle, Bangor, Lewiston, and Scarborough, as well as a State Office, located in Bangor. There are 62 employees working to deliver the agency's Housing, Business, and Community Programs, which are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, and farmers, and improve the quality of life in rural Maine. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting USDA Rural Development's web site at http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/me.
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