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On Earth Day, USDA Invests in Critical Infrastructure to Advance Renewable Energy Across Rural Montana

Name
Sue Kerver
City
Bozeman
Release Date
Apr 22, 2022

BOZEMAN, Mont., April 22, 2022 –Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands, which includes funding for Montana's rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

A complete list of national awards and recipients may be found here.  

"Here at USDA Rural Development, every day is Earth Day. With a focus on clean water, renewable energy, and value-added agriculture, USDA Rural Development Montana is doing our part to invest in our state and protect our communities and resources in the spirit of the first Earth Day, which happened 52 years ago," said USDA Rural Development (RD) Montana State Director Kathleen Williams

Montana's investments, funded through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), will help the state's agricultural producers, rural small business owners and residents lower energy costs and make energy-efficiency improvements.

"Through the Rural Energy for America program, we’re helping businesses, farmers, and ranchers conserve energy and save money," Williams added.  "These investments in Montana's rural communities will make an impact for generations to come." 

Montana Awards:

In Montana, allocations through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) include:

  • $6,346 to Yellowstone Vacation Rentals, LLC, which will be used to purchase and install a 8.28 two-kilowatt (kW) solar array on the Fox Den Lodge property in West Yellowstone.  This project is expected to realize $1,228 per year in savings and should generate 11,245 kW of energy per year, which is enough electricity to power one home.
  • $9,360 to Consulting Design Solutions, Inc., which will be used to develop renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements to this Manhattan-based company. Project funds will be used to purchase and install a 14.4 kilowatt (kW) solar array.  The project is expected to realize $1,545 per year in savings and should generate 17,206 kW of energy annually, which is enough electricity to power almost two homes.
  • $16,294 to Canebrake Vineyard, which owns the building in Helena where the Montana Health Center in located. Project funds will be used to purchase and install a 23.7 kilowatt (kW) roof-mounted solar array. This project is expected to realize $2,280 per year in savings and should generate 32,567 kW of energy per year, which is enough electricity to power three homes.
  • $19,500 to Nelson Real Estate Holdings, LLC, which will be used to install a 29.52 kilowatt-hour (kWh) solar array on its business, Nelson's Ace Hardware, in Whitefish. The hardware store has been continuously owned and operated by the Nelson family for over 70 years and is a staple to the Whitefish community.  This project is expected to provide 33,204 kWh, or 26 percent, of the annual electrical consumption needed for their new location, which, in 2019, doubled in size.
  • $20,000 to Quaggfor, LLC (doing business as Thornton Group), which owns a building in downtown Butte that houses numerous businesses. This award will be used to purchase and install an uninterrupted power supply for the historic building. The project is expected to realize $7,236 per year in savings and should save 93,005 kilowatts per year, which is enough electricity to power almost nine homes.
REAP in Action:

Click here to read how Carol Lynn Lapotka, the owner of REcreate Designs, LLC, in Polson, retrofitted her building with LED lighting, energy-efficient windows and insulated front doors. The project has saved nearly $3,400 and reduced energy use by 50 percent.

Click here to see how Sun Mountain Lumber successfully integrated Rural Energy for America funding to improve their operations.  

Click here to read how Pink Bench Distilling used their 2021 Rural Energy for America award to fund energy efficiency improvements, which included insulation, double pane windows, exterior doors and an air source heat pump for their new business in Troy. 

The most recent REAP award cycle closed on March 31, 2022, and those applications are being processed.  Additionally, USDA Rural Development Montana is accepting applications for the next competition, which closes on October 31, 2022.  More information, including application details, may be found here

To learn more about REAP, and other business investment resources for Montana's rural areas, contact Montana's Business and Cooperative Programs Director, Lad Barney, at (406) 309-3350 or lad.barney@usda.gov.

Rural Infrastructure Tour

Today's announcement is part of the Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, which is a multi-faceted outreach effort involving cabinet and sub-cabinet officials across federal agencies as they travel to and learn from rural communities across the country. These visits will highlight new federal funding and investments already underway through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, a once-in-a-generation investment that will support rural communities and their infrastructure needs for years to come. 

This announcement also furthers the Justice40 Initiative, which commits to delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. 

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mt.. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.

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