USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer today announced nearly $186,000 in funding for 16 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects throughout Minnesota.
“REAP funding provides financial assistance to rural small businesses and agricultural producers who are looking for ways to improve energy efficiency and decrease their environmental footprint,” Landkamer said. “Through renewable energy technology such as solar panels and decreasing the amount of energy used to operate day-to-day business, these projects will help contribute to safer and cleaner environment for rural communities throughout Minnesota.”
For example, Alternative Energy Solutions, LLC in Altura, MN will receive $10,000 to offset the cost of installing a PV solar system that will generate electricity needed for the production of biomass pellets that can be burned to heat greenhouses. The amount of energy generated by the solar panels will replace more than 25 percent of their annual electricity use – saving them $4,000 per year in operating costs.
Pet Urns by HTW, LLC in Chatfield, MN will receive $13,124 to also offset the costs associated with installing a PV solar system that is projected to save approximately $2,700 annually and replace 100 percent of operating costs for electricity needed to operate machinery that makes specialized products to honor the memory of your loved ones.
Alpha Foods, LLP in Litchfield, MN will receive $15,245 to install energy efficient lighting in one of their dairy barns and P&J Products Co. in Northfield, MN will receive $9,140 to offset the costs associated with installing a heat recovery system for their poultry barns.
Minnesota is one of many states across the nation that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced will be investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency – totaling more than $6.7 million in 544 projects nationwide.
"These grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs," Vilsack said. "All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities."
REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years.
Since 2009, USDA has awarded $36.4 million to support more than 900 REAP projects throughout Minnesota. Nationwide, USDA has invested more than $545 million in support of more than 8,800 REAP projects. This includes $361 million in grants and loans for almost 2,900 renewable energy systems. For the remaining 5,900 projects, USDA provided $184 million to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers make energy efficiency improvements such as lighting; heating, ventilation and cooling; irrigation; insulation and motor replacements. When fully operational, these projects are estimated to generate and save 7.3 billion kilowatt hours of electricity annually – enough to power more than 660,000 homes for a year.
Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.