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USDA Announces Funding for 22 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects in Rural Oregon

Jill Rees
Release Date
Aug 22, 2013

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week announced funding for 631 projects across the nation, including 22 in Oregon, that will 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. This grant and loan funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

With this announcement, USDA is making investments of more than $21 million in energy projects nationwide, including over $464,000 in Oregon, through its Rural Development mission area. Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.

"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," said USDA Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker. "This program and others like it, which are authorized through the Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, are important tools that help rural enterprises not only improve their operations, but also create jobs and improve the nation's energy independence."

The purpose of REAP is to help producers reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. In addition, REAP helps agricultural producers and rural businesses increase their production of green energy, which goes into the local electrical grid.

For example, a $9,500 grant to Wong Potatoes, Inc. in Klamath Falls, Oregon, will offset the $38,000 needed to install a 10-kilowatt solar array on the processing facility.  The 28,872 kilowatt hours of electrical power it will generate annually will be sold back to the grid.

In addition, REAP helps agricultural producers and rural businesses increase their production of green energy, which goes into the local electrical grid. For example, Green Lane Energy, Inc. will receive $126,570 to offset the construction cost of a $13.9 million anaerobic digester in Junction City, Oregon. Agricultural residue and dairy manure will provide the feedstock for the digester, which will produce 12,521,520 kilowatt hours of electrical power annually.

REAP offers financial assistance to farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems and the implementation of energy efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other private funding sources for businesses. REAP also assists with the conservation of natural resources and the development of new forms of energy that reduces America's dependence on fossil fuels and creates a stronger rural economy.

Under the terms of REAP, 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, REAP has helped to fund nearly 7,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.

View the full list of recipients for REAP grants and loans for the current announcement here.

Today's announcement also includes grants to help agricultural producers and rural businesses conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. You can view the list of recipients for REAP feasibility studies here.

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 in 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. 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.