Secretary Vilsack Announces Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA Rural Development is providing $23.4 million in loans and grants for 186 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Vilsack made the announcement while visiting the Iowa State Fair.

"President Obama and I are committed to helping our nation become energy independent by helping rural businesses become more energy efficient," Vilsack said. "This funding will not only help our farmers and small businesses reduce energy costs, but also more efficient and competitive."

For example, Primus Farms, Inc. of Grundy, Iowa, has been selected to receive a $23,162 grant and a $23,162 loan. This funding will be used to replace an outdated grain dryer with a new, highly efficient grain dryer projecting over 54.58 percent in annual energy savings.

In Franklin, Mass., Berkshire East Ski Area has been selected for a $1.5 million guaranteed loan to assist rural small businesses in developing a renewable energy system. This project will fund a large wind energy generation system that will offset the firm’s energy use and provide a portion for sale.

USDA energy efficiency programs often yield double digit energy savings. The Glen Coble & Sons, Inc., ranch in Mullen, Neb., reduced its electricity draw from the local utility by 30 percent after it received a $14,725 USDA Rural Development grant in 2008 to install five wind turbines.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance.

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation’s capital and 500 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of nearly $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.