Plymouth, NC, Aug 15, 2013 -- Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for projects across the nation to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Grant and loan funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill. The U.S. 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.
In Maine, My Abram has been selected to receive a $235,000 REAP Grant to install a solar renewable energy system. The ski area, located in Greenwood, will install a solar photovoltaic system consisting of 869 solar panels and producing 422,076 kWh of clean renewable energy annually. This energy project is anticipated to provide power for area households annually.
"As part of the Obama Administration's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, USDA continues to work with America's farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line," Vilsack said. "This program and others like it would not be available without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and again I urge Congress to pass a bill when they return to Washington next month."
USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel said, "I am pleased USDA Rural Development could provide this integral grant to assist My Abram in utilizing its abundant solar resource to provide clean power to the grid. This project reduces consumption of fossil fuel and decreases carbon emissions, helping to keep Maine's environment pristine for residents and visitors alike."
Under the terms of the REAP program, up to 25 percent of an eligible energy production or conservation project can be funded through a grant, and additional support can be provided in the form of a loan. Since the start of the Obama Administration, the REAP program has helped fund nearly 7,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.
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 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, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as the Department 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 $828 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.
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. USDA Rural Development invested a total of $402.5 million in Maine communities last Fiscal Year. 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.
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).