USDA Rural Development State Director Bobby Goode and Area Director Harriet Cannon today joined Obion County Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Katie Keathley in a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate White Squirrel Winery with owners Bill and Marjie Sanderson.
As recipient of a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant, White Squirrel Winery will receive $11,673 to assist in the purchase and installation of a 10kW solar array that will power a newly constructed tasting room reducing the energy costs and carbon footprint of the business. Any excess power generated will be sold back to TVA on the grid.
“Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency has far-reaching impact across the nation and in our rural communities,” Goode said. “It provides jobs now, creates economic opportunity, and leads to a more secure energy future.”
The Rural Energy for America Program helps rural businesses and agricultural producers purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements, lowering utility costs and increasing America's energy independence. Eligible renewable energy projects include the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems such as wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, anaerobic digesters, hydroelectric, and ocean or hydrogen systems. Eligible energy efficiency projects are those that reduce energy consumption and result in cost savings. Examples include, but are not limited to, things like retrofitting lighting, adding insulation, replacing equipment with more efficient units or replacing heating/cooling systems. All projects must be located in a rural area, must be technically feasible, and must be owned by the applicant.
Others participating in the event included Field Representative for Congressman Stephen Fincher Ivy Fultz, Field Representative for Senator Lamar Alexander Matt Varino, City of Kenton Mayor Virginia Davidson, Regional Director NW Region Business Development Blake Swaggart, Jobs Development Specialist Janna Hellums, NWTDD Executive Director John Bucy, Gibson Electric Membership VP of Economic Development Emily Sullivan, University of Tennessee at Martin Dean of Ag. Todd Winters, State of Tennessee Dept. of Ag Jai Templeton and RD Staff.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, health, education, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last four years the agency has assisted more than 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $3.7 Billion into local economies through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.