Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in September that USDA is investing in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide, including 14 small wind projects.
“These loan guarantees and grants will have far-reaching impacts nationwide, particularly in the rural communities where these projects are located,” Vilsack said. “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will continue the unprecedented increase in home-grown energy sources and American energy independence we’ve seen in recent years. This is creating jobs, providing new economic opportunities and leading the way to a more secure energy future.”
Secretary Vilsack made the announcement while in North Carolina to highlight USDA’s investments in rural renewable energy projects, as part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy. It is the most recent of a series of USDA actions to strengthen the country’s energy sector.
Funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill.
In total, Vilsack announced $68 million in REAP loan guarantees and grants. Funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.
Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen and geothermal.
Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has supported more than 8,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. During this period, USDA has provided more than $276 million in grants and $268 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.