USDA offers energy grants to farmers, rural businesses

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(Farm and Dairy file photo)

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Rural Business-Cooperative service administrator Bette Brand announced Aug. 19 the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding grants for projects in 49 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

Funding

Under the announcement, the USDA is investing $9.3 million through the Rural Energy for America Program for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019.

The 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; and 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.

Grant uses

Farmers, rural business owners and institutions in Ohio and Pennsylvania are investing in their operations through REAP by making lighting upgrades and poultry house improvements, upgrading grain dryers and installing solar array systems.

Rainbow Head Farms, in Wallace, West Virginia, will use a $14,971 REAP grant to purchase and install a 26-kilowatt solar array on an aquaculture farm facility. This project is expected to lower the farm’s electricity costs by an estimated $4,000 annually.

Shenandoah Planing Mill, in Charles Town, West Virginia, will use a $18,441 REAP grant to purchase and install a wood-fired boiler for use in their kiln operation. This project is expected to replace 100% of the building’s energy use and reduce the utility bill by an estimated $42,000 annually.

The project will generate 892,694 kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year, which is enough electricity to power 81 homes.

Marasa, LLC will use a $2,398 REAP grant to make energy efficiency improvements including LED lighting and HVAC system improvements to an existing commercial building near Beckley, West Virginia. This project is expected to replace 63% of the building’s energy use and reduce the utility bill by more than $4,000 annually.

For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.

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