USDA Rural Development State Director today announced funding to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems.
“This funding will allow local rural small businesses and ag producers the opportunity to invest in improvements that will reduce energy usage or use energy more efficiently,” Landkamer said. “It also empowers rural America to pave the way to our nation’s energy independence.”
Southwest Regional Development Commission (SRDC) will receive a $70,060 grant to assist approximately 67 rural small businesses and agricultural producers in Southwestern Minnesota by coordinating and promoting energy audits in over 18 counties through its Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Energy Audit Assistance program. Energy audits can help recipients determine the most effective ways to conserve energy through system upgrades, changes in fuel sources, or implementation of energy efficiency measures.
SRDC is one of 26 grants across the nation that will receive funding through the Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants program (EA/REDA), which is administered under USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements for farms and rural small businesses, grants for energy audits, and renewable energy planning and development grants to service providers who work with farmers and rural small businesses.
Landkamer recently visited Worthington, Minn. to highlight REAP funding that was used to offset the costs of installing energy efficient refrigerators in rural small business owner Maria Parga’s Mexican grocery store. SRDC was also in attendance to discuss how, with help from their REAP Energy Audit grant, they can now provide up to 75 percent of the cost for performing an energy audit like the one received by Parga to analyze the energy efficiency improvements to her grocery store.
Additionally, EA/REDA grant funds can provide renewable energy development assistance to help agricultural producers and rural small business owners use renewable energy systems in their operations. In 2015, Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) received a $100,000 Renewable Energy Development Assistance grant to assist nearly 50 rural small businesses and agricultural producers with free on-site renewable energy assessments and offer custom project assistance.
Through its 18-month Renewable Energy for Greater MN project, CERTs - a partnership of five organizations including the University of Minnesota’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships and Extension – has been working to provide renewable energy site assessments for interested parties. They also connect potential projects with resources and tools, such as USDA REAP funding, to move forward on projects emphasizing solar, biomass and small wind.
Since 2009, USDA has provided $10.8 million to conduct 127 energy audit programs across the nation through the REAP Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance program. To learn more, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn, contact your local area office, or contact Energy Coordinator Ron Omann at 651.602.7796 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Minnesota, USDA Rural Development (#RD_Minnesota) has invested over $6 billion to start or expand 1,200 rural businesses; help over 27,000 rural residents buy homes; fund nearly 360 community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care facilities; finance hundreds of miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and help bring high-speed Internet access to rural residents and businesses throughout Greater Minnesota. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov/mn.