The nation’s farmers have access to large tracts of land and–in many areas–plenty of renewable energy resources. Why not help them harvest that energy and make operations “down on the farm” more energy-efficient?
That appears to be the thinking behind the USDA‘s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack recently announced loans and grants for nine renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in North Carolina and a whopping 433 such projects in farm-rich Iowa.
In North Carolina, those projects will allow farmers like Dennis L. Austin of Marshville to replace 35-year old poultry houses with new, energy efficient ones, with an expected savings of 55 percent annually in electricity and propane costs.
In Iowa, REAP funding will allow Mark Anderson of Black Hawk County to install a 20 kilowatt wind turbine to provide energy for his farming operation; Dean A. Tjaden to install a biomass furnace; and The Madison County Winery LLC, to purchase and install a geothermal heating and cooling system and solar panel for the winery’s warehouse.
Funds under the REAP program–which was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill–can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance. More information is available online.
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