U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development Montana State Director Charles Robison today announced that USDA is investing $318,318 to help Montana farmers, ranchers and rural businesses generate power and lower energy costs. USDA is providing the funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
“The rural Montana businesses receiving these grants will have the opportunity to boost their bottom line while paying less for electricity and using less energy overall,” Robison said. “Farms, ranches and small businesses are essential to the growth and longevity of rural Montana, and President Trump is committed helping rural communities thrive. When rural Montana prospers, all Montana prospers.”
USDA Rural Development awarded REAP grants to three Central Montana businesses: Beartooth Electric Cooperative in Red Lodge; Cayuse Livestock Company in Melville; and Highmark Properties, LLC in Choteau. Highmark Properties, LLC will use $26,021 to purchase and install energy efficient windows for Teton Peak Assisted Living. The improvements will save $2,111 annually which is enough to power one home per year. Beartooth Electric Cooperative received $15,764 to purchase and install a roof-mounted community solar energy system for its cooperative members. The solar installation is estimated to save $3,313 per year.
Cayuse Cattle Company will use a $39,364 REAP grant to install a solar system to provide power to the entire ranch, including four homes, two cabins, a machine shop, three barns, and numerous livestock water systems through a ground mount and a roof mount solar array. The system will release nearly all the company’s annual electricity use, estimated to be $12,480 per year.
“The REAP grant has made it possible for us to make a substantial investment in renewable energy while recognizing a return on our investment in seven years and reducing our electricity costs over time to zero,” said Paul Hawks, a Vice President of Cayuse Livestock Company.
Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and to install renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. The funding can also be used to increase energy efficiency by making improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; lighting; and refrigeration. Reducing energy costs can significantly improve a business’ bottom line. According to USDA data, 90,000 farms used solar equipment in 2017, three times the number using solar panels in 2012.
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/mt.