U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development State Director Vicki Walker announced today that USDA is investing more than $83,000 in five renewable energy projects in rural Oregon through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). These awards are being made under the national REAP allocation; awards made under the state allocation will be announced separately.
“Energy costs can consume a large part of a business’s budget,” said Walker. “By helping farmers, ranchers, and rural small business owners use more renewable energy, Rural Development is not only improving their bottom line but also reducing greenhouse gas pollution, creating jobs, increasing our energy independence, and helping to sustain economically vibrant rural communities.”
For example, Bjorn Farm, a winery east of Salem, is receiving a $20,000 grant under this announcement to install a hybrid solar and thermal energy system. The solar photovoltaic portion of the system is expected to generate 19,679 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually, enough to power two homes. The thermal portion of the system should generate approximately 5,890 British thermal units (BTU) of energy per year. This will enable the winery to heat the water needed to clean its wine barrels and to sanitize the processing equipment while also achieving a lower energy bill each month and reducing their carbon footprint.
Nationwide, USDA is investing $63 million in loans and grants for 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. These projects are expected to generate and/or save 207 million kWh of energy—enough to power more than 13,600 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 systems. Funding for the projects announced today is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, USDA has supported more than 9,600 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide through REAP, providing more than $291 million in grants and $327 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.
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—strengthening America's economy, small towns, and rural communities.