On Thursday in Harrisburg, Pa., USDA Undersecretary Dallas Tonsager announced federal funding of 67 rural renewable energy projects via the Rural Energy for America Program. The announcement was made during the National Rural Electric Association annual meeting.
USDA is awarding more than $2.4 million in REAP energy audit grants, renewable energy development assistance grants; and more than $1.2 million to support feasibility studies for future projects. The Northeast claimed a share of those projects focused on helping rural ag producers boost farm energy efficiency and reduce costs; use renewable energy technologies; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects.
"The Obama Administration is committed to making America more energy efficient, and more competitive by encouraging rural businesses build renewable energy systems," said Tonsager. "The projects will provide rural small businesses and agricultural producers the opportunity to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy system installations."
More than $785,625 in 12 grants will be going to seven Northeast states -- Maine, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and West Virginia. Eligible intermediaries, such as universities, will receive funds to conduct energy audits. That'll lead to energy savings and initiatives to reduce energy consumption for years to come.
Pennsylvania State University will receive a $99,676 grant to conduct a statewide initiative offering technical assistance and workforce solutions through energy audits. Saint Francis University, also in Pennsylvania, will receive $100,000 to help ag producers and rural small businesses increase farm energy efficiency and reduce costs through technical assistance provided by the university.
West Virginia Division of Energy will use its $100,000 grant to complete 130 energy audits for rural small businesses to help them reduce energy usage and operating costs.
Anaerobic manure digesters increasing
Tonsager reported that last year's feasibility studies for anaerobic dairy manure digesters in Pennsylvania proved to be a tremendous first step. "Construction is beginning on four USDA-funded digester projects in Pennsylvania and six digester projects next door in Ohio.
"These systems will provide additional farm income and contribute to better nutrient management. They'll also produce clean, renewable electricity for thousands of homes in the community."
During 2009 climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy called for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25% by 2020.
Here's the list of Northeast grant recipients:
Maine: Corinth Wood Pellets, LLC – $9,000
Maryland: Berrywine Plantations, Inc., dba Linganore Winecellars – $11,625
New Jersey: Renu Energy Inc., – $50,000
Rhode Island: Global Imaging Holdings Realty, LLC – $50,000 and Plain Lane Acres, LLC – $50,000
Vermont: Green Mountain Clean Energy, LLC – $50,000 and Lemington Solar Farm, LLC – $15,000
Energy Audits/ Renewable Energy Development Assistance
Maine: Greater Portland Council of Governments – $100,000 and Efficiency Maine Trust – $100,000
Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State University – $99,676 and Saint Francis University – $100,000
Rhode Island: Rhode Island Resource Conservation and Development Area Council, Inc. – $50,000
West Virginia: West Virginia Division of Energy – $100,000
More information on the REAP program can be found at www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_ReapGrants.html.