Funding To Create Jobs, Reduce Energy Costs for Agricultural Producers Announced
Posted on 12/15/2011 at 12:00 AM by Christa Hartsook
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced loans and grants for agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in their operations. The funding is provided through USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Collectively, these REAP-funded projects announced are expected to lower energy usage by 2 billion kilowatts and prevent nearly 2 million metric tons of emissions from being released into the environment. Today's announcement concludes the REAP awards cycle for 2011. REAP, authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill, provides loans and grants for farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal dollars are leveraged with other funding sources for the projects.
In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA Rural Development provided through the REAP program a total of $23.2 million for energy efficiency projects, $20.9 million for biodigesters, $20.3 million for solar energy projects, $8.2 million for hydroelectric systems, $7 million for biomass energy projects, $4.28 million for flexible fuel pump projects, $3.9 million for wind energy projects, $1.4 million for geothermal installations.
With this announcement, USDA Rural Development is funding more than 280 projects to help reduce energy costs. In all, the department funded more than 1,100 energy efficiency projects in fiscal year 2011, including improvements in aquaculture, poultry lighting and ventilation, irrigation system upgrades, maple syrup production efficiency, small business heating and cooling, rural grocery cooler replacement and others.
USDA is providing support for 12 flexible fuel pump projects in eight states as part of today's announcement, bringing the number of flex-fuel projects funded to 65 in FY 2011, with 266 new pumps being installed in 30 states. Installing flexible fuel pumps encourages the use of biofuels and supports our nation's growing clean-energy economy. Flexible fuel pumps are specifically designed to dispense ethanol-gasoline blends that contain up to 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. In addition, they may also dispense mid-level blends, such as E15 and E30.