Deputy Under Secretary Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $237 million to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses lower energy costs. The Department is providing 640 awards to applicants in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. USDA is providing the funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
“Businesses grow and create more jobs when their energy costs are lower,” LaVoy said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural businesses, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and to install renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, or solar. The funding can also be used to increase energy efficiency by making improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. In Wyoming, approximately $539,000 was funded in fiscal year 2019, helping 13 rural businesses increase energy efficiency, providing significant benefits, both economically and environmentally.
For example, in Jackson, High Country Linen received a REAP grant of $216,292 to assist with energy efficiency upgrades of washers, dryers and laundry equipment. Projected savings for this project is approximately 181,000 kWh annually; which could supply electricity to about 16 mid-sized homes each year.
Midway Auto Sales in Lovell qualified for a renewable energy grant of $30,937, where a 41.25 kWh DC grid-tied solar electric power system will be roof-mounted at this small-town business. Energy generated from this solar system is estimated to be 61,240 kWh annually; an approximate $3,800 value; which would equate to powering about five mid-sized homes per year.
Wyoming Sugar Company has been operating in the Big Horn Basin for more than 100 years and was recently awarded a $91,771 REAP grant for energy efficiency improvements. Based in Worland, Wyoming Sugar will replace and upgrade the control systems for two large steam boilers; including fuel, air and water control system upgrades. Projected savings will be 6.5 million kWh annually, valued at $67,000 per year, or enough electricity to power approximately 600 homes on an annual basis.
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.