Funding supports anaerobic digesters, other renewable energy projects to create jobs, promote energy independence
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding loans and grants that will help more than 1,100 rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. The funding is for energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems.
USDA is financing projects in every state, as well as in the Virgin Islands, the Western Pacific and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, providing $102 million in loan guarantees and $71 million in grants for 1,114 projects financed through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Among the projects, nearly $6 million is being awarded for 17 anaerobic digesters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio and Washington.
In total, these projects are expected to generate and/or save 906 million KWh of energy—enough to power more than 83,675 homes for a year and cut carbon pollution by an estimated 455,000 metric tons. That is the equivalent of taking more than 131,500 cars off the road for a year.
Congress created the REAP program in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of at least $50 million annually for the duration of the five-year bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past seven years while achieving reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped finance 10,753 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that have reduced energy costs for rural businesses nationwide.
During that period, USDA has provided almost $360 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners. When operational, these projects will generate/save an estimated 8.4 million megawatt hours—enough to power more than 760,000 homes for a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That is the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from the road.