USDA invests in improvements to help rural people lower energy costs

Staff reports
Farm Forum

HURON, S.D. – Rural Development State Director for South Dakota Julie Gross today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding nine grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for projects throughout South Dakota to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

“USDA is committed to increasing economic development in South Dakota’s rural communities,” said Gross. “The projects will use the federal funds to help lower energy costs and improve the business’ bottom line.”

Gross’ announcement is in coordination with Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Agriculture is awarding $9.3 million in grants for projects in 49 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico to reduce energy costs. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. USDA will make additional funding announcements in the REAP program in coming weeks.

Recipients can use REAP funding for a variety of needs, such as conducting energy audits and installing renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. Funds also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration. Listed below are a few examples of how farmers, rural business owners and institutions are making investments in their operations through REAP.

The nine successful recipients in South Dakota are:

• Boyd’s Gunstock Industries, Inc. in Mitchell will use a $ 2,994 grant to purchase and install high efficiency lighting. This project is expected to lower the business’ electricity cost by $8,223 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power seven homes for a year.

• Crosswind Jerseys, LLC, a locally owned dairy in Elkton, will use a $11,663 grant to purchase and install LED lighting throughout the dairy operation. The dairy milks over 1,300 cows daily and provides jobs to 18 employees. This project is expected to lower the operation’s electricity cost by $15,031 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power 18 homes for a year.

• Farmers State Bank in Parkston will use a $5,820 grant to purchase and install LED lighting in the bank. This project is expected to lower the bank’s electricity cost by $5,146 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power four homes for a year.

• Langer’s Supermarkets, Inc., a locally owned grocery store in Gettysburg, will use a $3,767 grant to purchase and install LED lighting in the grocery store. The store provides fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items to the rural area. This project is expected to lower the store’s electricity cost by $1,745 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power one home a year.

• Russell Maier, operates Maier Hay Grinding in Bowdle, will use a $9,043 grant to purchase and install new overhead doors and insulation. This project is expected to lower the business’ electricity cost by $7,955 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power 36 homes a year.

• Daniel C. Martin, dba Pop's Grocery in Herreid, will use a $20,000 grant to purchase and install LED lighting, HVAC, new coolers, and refrigeration units in the grocery store. The store provides fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items to the rural area. This project is expected to lower the business’ electricity cost by $13,277 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power 20 homes a year.

• Larry I. Rupiper, operates Rupiper Travel in Yankton, will use a $13,094 grant to purchase and install a 27-kW solar system. This project will produce 35,707-kWh annually, which is enough electricity to power three homes a year.

• Susan Tilberg, operates a family owned farm in Ethan, will use a $19,985 grant to purchase and install a grain dryer. The farm grows corn and soybeans and raises cattle. This project is expected to lower the farm’s electricity cost by $8,161 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power 11 homes.

• Westland Manufacturing, Inc. will use an $8,800 grant to purchase and install LED lighting at the Dakotaland Manufacturing buildings in Watertown. This project is expected to the lower the business’ electricity cost by $15,321 annually. The energy saved by this project is enough to power 15 homes.

In April 2017, President Donald J. Trump established the Interagency Task Force on Agriculture and Rural Prosperity to identify legislative, regulatory and policy changes that could promote agriculture and prosperity in rural communities. In January 2018, Secretary Perdue presented the Task Force’s findings to President Trump. These findings included 31 recommendations to align the federal government with state, local and tribal governments to take advantage of opportunities that exist in rural America. Supporting the rural workforce was a cornerstone recommendation of the task force.