The U.S. Department of Agriculture is encouraging farmers, rural small businesses and agricultural producers to apply for financing in a key USDA program that provides loan guarantees to help rural small businesses lower their energy costs.
Courtesy of NREL
“USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is an important tool to help strengthen and grow the rural economy,” said Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development, Joel Baxley.
REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar. It also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. Below are some examples of USDA’s REAP investments.
Edgehill Farms, an ag tourism center in Oakland, Kentucky, received a $34,596 loan guarantee to install a 34.8-kilowatt photovoltaic array system on the roof of its ham processing facility. The system will generate approximately 45,000 kWh annually that will be sold directly to the local utility, earning $4,448 for the firm annually.
In Magnolia, North Carolina, Optima KV received a $6.5 million loan guarantee for an anaerobic digester that will help hog producers dispose of waste by converting it to energy. The project aggregates multiple biogas streams at a refinery. The resulting natural gas is then transported via pipeline to a power plant to generate electricity. The digester produces additional revenue for hog producers and a cleaner environment.
In April 2017, President Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Agriculture Secretary George “Sonny” Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.