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USDA Helps 17 Rural Businesses and Farms Make Energy Efficiency Improvements, Adopt Renewable Energy Systems

Deborah Callahan
Athens, Ga
Release Date

ATHENS, Ga., Dec. 11, 2019 State Director for Rural Development Joyce White today announced that 17 Georgia farms and businesses are included in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announcement of a $237 million investment 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). Of these awards, $1.7 million is awarded to rural Georgia farms and businesses.

   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; and lighting and refrigeration.

   In Georgia, 15 companies and farms received REAP funds for solar projects and two are receiving funds for biodiesel projects for example:

  • In Laurens County, Smisson-Mathis Energy, LLC will combine $250,000 REAP grant with a loan from the Small Business Administration to increase production of biodiesel from waste oils and grease.  The project will realize $2,580,000 per year in revenue and will generate the equivalent of 350,381 kWh of electricity per year which is enough electricity to power 32 homes.
  • In Franklin County, Cedar Ridge Poultry Farm Inc will use $47,700 REAP grant towards the purchase and installation of a 72.27 KW solar energy replacement system on the farm. The project will replace 117,929 kWh per year, which is enough electricity to power 11 homes, and will realize $12,972 in savings per year.

   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.