This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

August 28, 2013

USDA Awards $21 Million to Renewable and Energy Efficiency Projects

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 15 announced more than $21 million in funding for 631 projects across the nation that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Farmers, ranchers, business owners, and agriculture producers in 42 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico will receive funding. Grants and loans are made through the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

REAP helps producers reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. For example, a family in North Carolina will use a $7,403 grant to install an energy-efficient geothermal system. And a nursery in Nevada will use a $12,476 grant to install a solar photovoltaic system to provide power for its farm and nursery. Under the terms of REAP, up to 25% 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.

The funding includes almost $300,000 in grants to 19 agricultural producers and rural businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. For example, the Gunnison County Electric Association, Inc., in Gunnison, Colorado, will receive a $6,739 grant to assess the feasibility of installing a small hydropower generating plant at the Taylor Reservoir Dam. If built, the plant would generate 4 megawatts of power. See the USDA press release.