Agriculture Secretary Vilsack announces funding for 500 renewable energy projects

Washington, D.C., September 16, 2011 — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced loans and grants for more than 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures in their operations.

"This funding is an important part of the Obama administration's plan to help the nation's farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses conserve natural resources, create more green jobs and lead us on the path to becoming an energy independent nation," Vilsack said. "These projects are in addition to the more than 900 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects recently announced during the President's Rural Economic Forum."

These federal funds leverage other funding sources for small businesses. In all, USDA announced today more than $27 million in energy grants and guaranteed loans for projects.

The REAP program is helping many agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption.

For example, in Kirkwood, Pa., Jay Clifford Sensenig was selected to receive a $309,733 grant to install a co-op digester system that will process annually more than 16,800 tons of dairy, hog and chicken manure from four farms into methane gas, creating more than 879,000 kW per year of electricity. In addition, the digester system is designed to accept and process food waste. The host farm uses 232,000 kW annually; the excess energy produced from the digester will be sold to the local utility.

In Beaver Dam, Wis., United Cooperative was selected to receive a $448,500 grant to help with the installation cost of 33 ethanol flex-fuel dispensers and 17 biodiesel dispensers.

The REAP program is also funding several other types of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. For example, in Windham, N.H., the Pugliese Contracting Corp. was selected to receive a $99,500 loan guarantee and a $49,875 grant to purchase and install a 30 kW solar photovoltaic system and a geothermal heating and cooling system in its 8,000-square-foot operations center. Once installed, the system will reduce energy purchased from the grid by 63 percent. The geothermal system will provide 100 percent of the business's heating and cooling needs.

Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project's cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables, $250,000 for efficiency.

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