In honor of Earth Day 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is investing $79,500 in renewable energy for five rural Oregon businesses and farms, prioritizing climate-smart solutions and environmental stewardship, announced Acting State Director Jill Rees.
"Adopting renewable energy systems can help small, rural businesses improve their operations while also protecting the environment," said Rees. "These investments will help rural Oregon farmers and small business owners reduce their carbon footprint and improve their bottom line."
For example, Minam River Lodge, an award-winning off-grid lodge in the heart of Oregon's largest wilderness area in northeast Oregon, is receiving a $16,662 grant to expand its renewable energy system. With the installation of new solar panels, this lodge in the Eagle Cap Wilderness will offset the diesel generator it currently uses for energy, saving not only the cost of the fuel but also eliminating the cost and carbon footprint of flying the fuel, six drums at a time, to this remote location that is not accessible by road. The solar array will reduce the energy costs of this unique wilderness lodge by $16,321 per year, savings it can invest back into the business.
In the small town of Jefferson in western Oregon, La Chouette Vineyard is receiving a $20,000 grant to install a 59-kilowatt solar array. This renewable energy system will save the vineyard $9,878 per year on its utility bill while replacing 100 percent of its energy use for irrigation with renewable electricity.
In all, these investments will replace 239,169 kilowatt-hours per year of energy use with renewable electricity across five rural Oregon businesses, the equivalent of powering 23 typical U.S. homes.
USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loan guarantees and grants to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses install renewable energy systems such as bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, wind, and solar systems. The funding can also be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation, and cooling systems; insulation; lighting; refrigeration; and irrigation systems, among others. Projects funded through this program can help to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.
Nationwide, USDA is making $487 million in investments across 45 states under the Water and Environmental Programs, the Rural Energy for America Program, the Electric Loan Program, and the Higher Blends Infrastructure Incentive Program. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan and grant agreements.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to 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 facilities; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal, and high-poverty areas. Learn more at www.rd.usda.gov/or.