Secretary Vilsack announces energy projects

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Farm Forum

PLYMOUTH, N.C. – On Aug. 15 Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced funding for 631 projects across the nation – including 9 in South Dakota – that will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Grant and loan funding is made available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.

With the announcement, USDA is making investments of more than $21 million in energy projects nationwide. Despite budget uncertainties, USDA remains focused on strengthening the rural economy.

“As part of the Obama Administration’s ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, USDA continues to work with America’s farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line,” Vilsack said. “This program and others like it would not be available without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and again I urge members of Congress to pass a bill when they return to Washington next month.”

REAP helps producers reduce energy costs and increase production efficiency. For example in South Dakota:

· Gary Althoff of Waubay was awarded $33,511 to replace a grain dryer.

· Vern’s Manufacturing, Inc. based in Wessington was awarded $44,930 to install a geothermal system.

· Kent Perkins of Claremont was awarded $14,711 to install a geothermal system.

· LaBolt Farmers Grain Company based in South Shore was awarded $16,760 to replace a grain dryer.

· Steven Finnegan of Clear Lake was awarded $11,697 to replace a grain dryer.

· Governor’s Gas, LLC based in Pierre was awarded $18,276 to purchase and install two flexible blender pumps.

· Steven W. Jensen of Lake Preston was awarded $6,423 to replace a grain dryer.

Under the terms of REAP, up to 25 percent 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 announcement includes almost $300,000 in grants to 19 agricultural producers and rural businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. For example:

· Pioneer Energy, LLC based in Hesperus, CO will receive $25,000 to help fund a feasibility study on a 99 megawatt wind farm near Lake Andes, SD.

· CLR, LLC based in Sioux Falls, SD will receive $8,570 to help fund a feasibility study on a biodiesel plant to be located in southeastern SD.