The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development is investing $8.7 million to help 75 agricultural producers and small businesses in rural Oregon lower their energy costs through renewable energy adoption and energy efficiency improvements, announced State Director John Huffman on Tuesday.
“This is an especially difficult time for small business owners, farmers, and ranchers,” said Huffman. “By financing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, we’re helping these rural businesses reduce their utility expenses and improve their bottom line.”
Rural Development is investing $7.6 million in loan guarantees and $1.05 million in grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to help 75 Oregon farmers, ranchers, and rural small businesses adopt renewable energy, conduct energy audits, and make energy efficiency improvements. The funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan and grant agreements.
Financing for ag producers, rural businesses Grants and loan guarantees awarded through the REAP Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program can be used to install renewable energy systems such as bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, wind, and solar systems.
The funding can also be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation, and cooling systems; insulation; lighting; refrigeration; and irrigation systems, among others.
In western Oregon, for example, JB Instant Lawn in Silverton will install a 121-kilowatt solar array with help from a $77,607 grant. This turf, grass seed, hazelnut, and blueberry farm will replace 50% of its energy use through this $310,428 project. By adopting renewable energy, the farm will reduce its utility bill by $13,742 per year, providing savings it can invest back into the business.
Live Local Organics in northwest Oregon will reduce the farm’s energy use by 17% through the installation of energy-efficient LED lighting using a $50,000 grant. With this $200,000 project, the locally-owned organic farm in Milwaukie will save $9,897 per year on its utility bill, improving the farm’s bottom line.
Technical assistance grants
Grants awarded through the REAP Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Program are used by the recipients to conduct energy audits and provide renewable energy development assistance to an array of rural businesses and agricultural producers.
The Oregon Institute of Technology will use a $100,000 grant to expand its Rural Energy at Work Program in Oregon and California. Working with Lake County Resources Initiative, Klamath Watershed Partnership, and Sustainable Northwest, the Oregon Institute of Technology will deliver energy audits to at least 22 agricultural producers in Klamath, Lake, and Harney counties in Oregon and Modoc County in California. This program will bolster long-term rural economic health by increasing the efficiency of energy and water irrigation systems, conserving resources and improving utility expenses for local farmers and ranchers.
Clackamas Community College, with its project partner Spark Northwest, will use a $100,000 grant to expand the renewable energy development assistance provided through its Renewable Energy Technology Program. At least 26 rural businesses and agricultural producers in Oregon will receive assistance with implementing solar and hydropower systems through this project.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing, community facilities such as schools, public safety, and health care facilities; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. Learn more at www.rd.usda.gov/or.