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USDA Invests $68 Million in 540 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects Nationwide

Kate O'Hara
Release Date
Oct 30, 2014

$270,000 invested in Illinois includes grants for solar energy to create jobs, promote energy independence and advance the use of renewable fuels

 USDA is investing in 10 Illinois projects to increase renewable energy use and energy efficiency.

“The size of the projects and amount of investment varies greatly,” said IL Rural Development Director Colleen Callahan. “What is consistent is the importance of achieving these energy savings and the commitment of USDA Rural Development to help our rural areas get this done.”

In total, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $68 million in REAP loan guarantees and grants.  Funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

 “These loan guarantees and grants will have far-reaching impacts nationwide, particularly in the rural communities where these projects are located,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.  “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will continue the unprecedented increase in home-grown energy sources and American energy independence we’ve seen in recent years.  This is creating jobs, providing new economic opportunities and leading the way to a more secure energy future.”

   The Illinois projects include grants for more than $93,000 for:

  • A 20kW solar photovoltaic (PV) system at Holsapple Farms, Inc., located in Toledo, IL, and projected to result in 53 percent energy replacement annually
  • A 100 kW solar PV system at the Lazy B Farms Partnership, located in Lawrenceville, IL, and projected to result in 56 percent  energy replacement annually and
  • Upgraded lights, windows, insulation and HVAC for McDonough Power cooperative, located in Macomb, IL, and projected to result in 75% energy savings annually.
  • Additionally, nearly $177,000 of grants were issued for grain dryers across the state.

Secretary Vilsack announced the projects while in North Carolina to highlight USDA's investments in rural renewable energy projects, as part of the Obama Administration's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy.  It is the most recent of a series of USDA actions to strengthen the country’s energy sector. The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  REAP was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill.

The announcement coincided with the announcement from President Obama of new executive actions to further advance the development of solar technologies across the country. These new investments in solar will reduce America's energy consumption, cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for a year – and save businesses nearly $45 billion on their energy bills. The renewed effort to invest in solar energy also includes commitments from a broad coalition of 50 public and private sector partners, including leading industry, community development organizations and housing providers in 28 states.  To learn more about this new Obama Administration initiative to increase the use of solar power, visit the White House website.

“USDA is proud to play a key role in the Obama Administration’s efforts to promote the use of solar technologies," Vilsack said.  "Of the REAP projects funded today, 240 projects are for solar investments of $5.2 million in grants and $55.3 million in loans.”

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.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has supported more than 8,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.  During this period, USDA has provided more than $276 million in grants and $268 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.

President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities.