USDA announces REAP funding
On Aug. 15, the USDA awarded more than $21 million in grant and loan funding to 631 projects under the Rural Energy for America Program. The funding will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects.
"As part of the Obama Administration's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, USDA continues to work with America's farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This program and others like it would not be available without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and again I urge members of Congress to pass a bill when they return to Washington next month."
During a press conference to announce the funding, Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien spoke about the history of the REAP program and its benefits. The program was first created in 2002, and revamped and provided with significant resources as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. Funds awarded under the program can be used to install a wide variety of renewable energy technologies, including biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and renewable hydrogen from biomass or water.
“It’s a broad-based all of the above renewable energy type of program,” O’Brien said. “Awards are made on a competitive basis to purchase renewable energy systems and to make energy efficiency improvements.” Some examples of eligible projects highlighted by O’Brien include the replacement of diesel irrigation motors, upgrading poultry house with lighting, ventilation and insulation, the installation renewable heating systems, improving HVAC systems, and more efficient windows for rural small businesses. “REAP loans and grants also fund energy audits and feasibility studies for renewable energy systems,” he continued.
Over the last four years, O’Brien noted that the program has awarded nearly 7,000 projects approximately $220 million in grants and $180 million in loan guarantees. In 2012 alone, 872 projects were awarded $35 million in funding.
At the end of the day, the REAP program means a better bottom line for awardees because energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements reduce the cost of energy, O’Brien said.
Biomass-related projects awarded under this round of funding include:
Mohegan Wood Pellets LLC: $25,000 grant to support a feasibility study of a wood pellet manufacturing facility for domestic and international sale (Connecticut)
Salmon River Electric Cooperative Inc.: $23,750 grant to support a feasibility study of a 200 kilowatt biomass gasification system (Idaho)
Wind River Biomass Utility LLC: $10,000 grant to support a feasibility study on a combined-heat-and-power (CHP)plant using wood waste (Washington)
Superior Pellet Fuels LLC: $49,678 to grant to support the installation of a mechanical briquetting press (Alaska)
Paff Tree Service: $71,750 grant to support the installation of a biomass wood chipper (Florida)
Jason Ferguson: $20,876 grant to support the installation of a wood boiler system (Kentucky)
William Alan Newton: $34,000 grant to support the installation of a wood boiler system (North Carolina)
Norman T. French: $50,000 grant to support the installation of a biomass boiler (North Carolina)
Chase Chicken: $49,850 grant to support the installation of a biomass boiler (Ohio)
Dovetail Energy LLC: $500,000 grant and $2.125 million loan guarantee to support the construction of an anaerobic digester (Ohio)
Green Lane Energy Inc.: $126,570 grant to support the construction of an anaerobic digester (Oregon)
John W. Gentilesco: $49,500 grant to support the installation of a biomass boiler system (Pennsylvania)
Statz Brothers: $426,500 grant to support the purchase and installation of an anaerobic digester
Ralph Griesbaum: $3,151 grant to support the purchase and installation of energy efficient lighting, a biomass stove and insulation for farm shop (Missouri)
Celebrity Dairy LLC: $14,639 grant to support the installation of a wood pellet furnace (North Carolina)
Butler Farms: $16,250 grant to support the installation and improvements for an anaerobic digester (North Carolina)
Sequatchie Cove Creamery: $9,000 grant to support the purchase of a biomass gasification system (Tennessee)
Unaka Forest Products Inc.: $20,000 grant to support the expansion of an existing biomass system (Tennessee)
Mountaineer Stairworks: $3,900 grant to support the installation of a wood-fired boiler system (West Virginia)