USDA announces REAP funding, 5 biomass projects benefit

By Erin Voegele | August 14, 2012

On Aug. 14 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that 106 projects have been awarded funding under the USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program. The REAP program, which was authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, provides grants and loan guarantees for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to reduce energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects.

“The Obama Administration is helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners across the country reduce their energy costs and consumption,” Vilsack said. “This is part of the President's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, which involves expanding support for traditional as well as alternative energy sources. Stable energy costs create an environment for sustainable job growth in rural America.”

Funding awarded through the program can be used to support several types of projects, including the installation of biomass boilers and anaerobic digestion systems. Awards made under the program can also be used to install wind, solar or geothermal equipment, replace inefficient engines, or complete other energy efficiency improvements.

According to the USDA, five biomass-related projects were selected for support during this round of funding. Recipients include:

- North Carolina-based RES Ag DM 4-3 LLC was awarded a $5 million loan guarantee to install a biomass system

- South Carolina-based J&R Farms LLC was awarded a $81,845 grant to install a biomass heating system, which will replace propane usage

- Vermont-based Vermont Woodchips Inc. was awarded a $50,000 grant to conduct a feasibility study

- Washington-based Port Angeles Hardwood LLC was awarded $8,371 to conduct a feasibility study of a woody biomass cogeneration system

- Wisconsin-based WTE-Dollmann LLC was awarded a $113,00 grant to support the development of an anaerobic digester

Regarding the WTE-Dollmann anaerobic digestion project, the USDA specified that the system will generate more than 4.8 million kWh of electricity, enough to power 420 homes annually. Electricity produced by the system will be sold to the local utility.