USDA Recognizes Earth Day by Celebrating Renewable Energy Infrastructure

Vicki Schurman
Release Date
Apr 22, 2021

Recognition also includes educational presentation with

local high school physics students

ORD, Neb., April 22, 2021 – United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development leadership in Nebraska joined local, state, and federal partners today to celebrate renewable energy infrastructure improvements for Scratchtown Brewing Company, LLC in recognition of Earth Day.

“USDA Rural Development programs and services are in a unique position to help rural communities,” Acting State Director for Rural Development Kim Martini said. “Projects like the one being recognized today, not only help rural small businesses save on their bottom line, but also contribute to the health of the environment.”


Today, USDA officials visited Ord, Nebraska to tour the Scratchtown Brewing Company, LLC (SBC) that started in 2012. The owners of SBC installed in 2019 a 24-kilowatt (kW) solar array with help from nearly a $15,000 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant. SBC was looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint while reducing operating costs. The added benefit during COVID was a business life saver as it reduced operating expenses at a time of greatly reduced revenues.   SBC realized approximately $3,300 in electrical bill savings. More information on this project can be found here.

In addition to today’s tour, USDA officials partnered with local experts to provide an open-to-the-public educational event on renewable energy, financial opportunities for infrastructure improvements and the benefits these improvements can have for rural small businesses. Today’s events concluded with a similar educational presentation with students at Ord High School.

USDA’s REAP Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Grants and Guaranteed Loans program investments can be used for renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. REAP funding can also be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems, insulation, lighting, and refrigeration. Energy audits may also be conducted using REAP funding through the Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Development Grant program.   

Today’s Earth Day recognition is just one of many taking place nationwide. In addition to celebrating renewable energy, states have also been celebrating water and wastewater investments made through USDA’s Water & Waste Disposal Loan & Grant and Loan Guarantee programs that will help improve the health and safety of drinking water and wastewater disposal. Some states are also celebrating great strides in electric infrastructure improvements for rural areas made possible through USDA’s Electric Programs. A complete listing of these projects can be found here.

Under the Biden-Harris Administration, Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans 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, Tribal and high-poverty areas.

Interested parties should visit or contact their local USDA Rural Development office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility details. If you’d like to subscribe to USDA Rural Development updates, visit our GovDelivery subscriber page.