Wednesday, May 11, 2016
WASHINGTON – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today awarded 26 grants to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers across rural America conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems, ultimately reducing their carbon footprint, lowering overhead costs and helping to create jobs. The grants are made possible through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps farms and small businesses right-size their energy systems and helps with the installation costs for renewable energy equipment.
"Helping thousands of rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers shift away from fossil-based energy by installing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions has been one of the most important components of USDA's climate mitigation investments," Vilsack said. "Nationwide, Americans are lowering their carbon footprint and energy bills by being more energy efficient and switching to renewable energy, and USDA investments make more of these options available. The Rural Energy for America Program also helps businesses create jobs in their communities through the development and installation of energy efficiency and generation projects. These benefits ripple across the nation as we work toward energy independence and reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change."
Thanks to USDA investments in renewable energy projects of all sizes, rural Americans are saving more than 10.4 billion kWh – enough energy to power more than 959,000 American homes annually. USDA has invested $38 billion in electric loans and more than $1 billion for smart grid technologies since 2009, helping build more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving approximately 5 million rural customers annually. Today, more than 2,200 USDA wind and solar renewable electricity generation projects power more than 130,000 homes annually.
REAP provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, grants for energy audits, and grants for renewable energy planning and development to service providers who work with farmers and rural small businesses.