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

Laurie Anderson, Acting Public Information Officer
Release Date

   CASPER, Wyoming, Aug. 19, 2019 – Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand 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.

   “Lowering energy costs helps rural businesses improve their bottom line and create jobs,” Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to increasing economic development in America’s rural communities through strong partnerships because 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, 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 Riverton, Wyoming, H&R Asset Managers LLC will complete installs of two roof-mounted solar electric power systems; one at 10.24 kilowatt and a second at 24.96 kilowatts, through a $19,955 REAP grant. These solar electric systems will generate approximately 50,059 kilowatt hours combined; equivalent to powering about four homes each year. H&R Asset Managers, a lease management company, will see substantial savings with these renewable energy improvements.

  • JD's Pumping Unit Service LLC from Worland, Wyo. will install of a 9.94 kilowatt, solar photo-voltaic system, with a $8,208 renewable energy grant. Savings valued at approximately $1,480 per year will be significant for this small business. Energy generated from this renewable energy system is estimated to be 14,860 kilowatt hours annually. JD’s Pumping Unit Service is a commercial weed control company that has been operating throughout northwestern Wyoming since 2003.

  • Platte Valley Foods in Saratoga, Wyo. will replace refrigeration units with a $17,902 REAP grant. This is a local, family-owned business nestled between the Rocky Mountain and Sierra Madre mountain ranges, and is the only grocery in a 40-mile radius. Platte Valley Foods will be much more successful offering a full array of foods and beverages in this small community; as this project is expected to save 62,744 kWh of electricity annually, or about $3,800 per year. This is approximately enough energy for 5 mid-sized homes per year.

  • Wyoming Sugar Company based in Worland, Wyo. has been awarded a $91,771 REAP grant to replace and upgrade control systems for two large steam boilers; including fuel, air and water control system upgrades. Projected savings will be 6.5 million kilowatt hours annually, valued at $67,000 per year. Essentially this would be enough electricity to power approximately 600 homes on an annual basis. Wyoming Sugar has been operating in the Big Horn Basin for more than 100 years, and these upgrades will be a great benefit, both economically and environmentally.

  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.