U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for 631 projects across the country – including 45 in North Carolina – that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Grant and loan funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.
With this announcement, USDA is committing to more than $21 million in energy projects nationwide. Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.
“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,” Vilsack said. “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.”
REAP helps producers reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. Projects range from installing geothermal systems to adding anaerobic digester systems to installing solar panels.
Under the terms of REAP, up to 25 percent of an eligible energy production or conservation project can be funded through a grant, and additional support can be provided in the form of a loan. Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped fund nearly 7,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.