USDA has selected 67 projects nationwide for funding of programs that are focused on helping rural agricultural producers reduce energy consumption and costs; use renewable energy technologies in their operation; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program. Under Secretary for Rural Development Dallas Tonsager made the announcement while attending the meeting of the Pennsylvania National Rural Electric Association.
"The Obama Administration is committed to making America more energy efficient, and in doing so, more competitive by encouraging rural businesses build renewable energy systems," said Tonsager. "The projects announced today will provide rural small businesses and agricultural producers the opportunity to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy system installations. Eligible intermediaries, such as universities, will receive funds to conduct energy audits which will lead to energy savings and initiatives that will reduce energy consumption for years to come."
Arbre Farms Corporation in Walkerville, Mich., was selected to receive $7,000 to evaluate the feasibility of installing and operating an anaerobic digester that could produce and use biogas as a substitute for propane to power the farm's boilers.
"Last year, these same feasibility study funds provided through REAP assisted in a tremendous year of anaerobic digester development and are an important first step in a successful renewable energy project," said Tonsager. "Construction is beginning on four USDA funded digester projects here in Pennsylvania and six digester projects next door in Ohio. These systems will provide additional farm income, contribute to better nutrient management, and produce clean, renewable electricity for thousands of homes in the community."
The announcement is in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary 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 calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25% by 2020.