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USDA Invests in Energy Efficiency Improvements to Help Farmers, Rural Businesses and Ag Producers Lower Energy Costs

Patience Hayes
Release Date

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Illinois State Director, Douglas Wilson today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding grants for projects in all states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

“From renewable energy systems such as geothermal and solar arrays, to energy efficiency improvements including lighting upgrades and grain dryers, businesses and farms are saving energy and money through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program”, Wilson said. “These investments in rural businesses help improve the rural economy, and when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”    

Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $9.3 million through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. USDA will make additional funding announcements in the REAP program in coming weeks.

Recipients can use REAP funding for a variety of needs, such as conducting energy audits and installing renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar.  Funds also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. Listed below are a few examples of how farmers, rural business owners and institutions are making investments in their operations through REAP.

  • In Carlinville, Illinois, M.J.M. Electric Cooperative, Inc. will use a $19,933 REAP loan and grant to purchase and install a new geothermal system at their facility to offset previous energy usage. This project will realize more than $8,900 per year in savings, and will replace 212,818 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough energy to power 20 homes.

  • Arthur's Ag Solutions, LLC, will use a REAP grant of $19,087 to purchase and install a 12kW and 48kW solar array to help power their site. Arthur's Ag Solution LLC is a grain drying and storage facility located in Hindsboro, Ill. This project will save more than $7,800 per year., and will generate 78,696 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough energy to power 7 homes.

  • Beckman Farms, Inc will receive $15,106 REAP grant. This Rural Development investment will be used to make energy efficiency improvements with the purchase and installation of a grain dryer. Beckman Farms Inc. is a swine and grain farmer in Dieterich, Ill. This project is anticipated to save more than $8,300 per year and will replace 141,588 kilowatt hours (58%) per year. This is enough energy to power 13 homes.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.

To view the report in its entirety, please view the Report to the President of the United States from the Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity (PDF, 5.4 MB). In addition, to view the categories of the recommendations, please view the Rural Prosperity infographic (PDF, 190 KB).

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.