Rural Development |1220 SW 3rd Avenue, Suite 1801, Portland, OR 97204 | www.rd.usda.gov/or
PORTLAND, Ore., May 10, 2016 – The adoption of energy efficiency practices and renewable energy systems in the Pacific Northwest will be accelerated through Rural Energy at Work, a new program offered by the nonprofit Wy’East Resources Conservation and Development Council with the help of a nearly $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development, announced State Director Vicki Walker today. This Oregon project is among 26 selected nationwide for grants to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems.
“Energy costs can consume a large part of a business’s budget,” said Walker. “With today’s funding for the Wy’East program, USDA Rural Development is not only improving the bottom line for those businesses but also helping to reduce their carbon footprint, retain and create jobs, and sustain economically vibrant rural communities.”
Rural Energy at Work will provide assistance to farmers, ranchers, and rural small business owners in Oregon, Southern Washington, and areas of Northern California. Wy’East and its partners—including the nonprofit Sustainable Northwest, regional Soil and Water Conservation Districts, and other local conservation organizations—will help participants evaluate the economic and technical feasibility of utilizing energy efficiency measures and renewable energy systems. They will then provide project consultation and technical assistance with the development of the selected alternatives. Wy’East, along with Sustainable Northwest and Northwest Energy Engineering, are providing more than $50,000 in additional funds for this project. Overall, Rural Energy at Work will assist at least 25 rural business owners and agricultural producers over the next 18 months.
The grants announced today are being provided through USDA’s Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant Program, which is administered under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP provides loans, grants, and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements for farms and rural small businesses, grants for energy audits, and renewable energy planning and development grants for service providers who work with farmers and rural small businesses.
Renewable energy development assistance grants help agricultural producers and rural small business owners use renewable energy systems in their operations. Energy audits can help recipients determine the most effective ways to conserve energy through system upgrades, changes in fuel sources, or implementation of energy efficiency measures. Funding is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.
Since the start of the Obama Administration in 2009, USDA has provided more than $11.8 million to 136 recipients of the REAP Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant Program, which has benefitted almost 3,000 rural small businesses and agricultural producers. In addition, REAP has helped finance 10,446 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that have reduced energy costs for rural businesses nationwide from 2009 through 2015. During this period, USDA has provided almost $345 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners. When operational, these projects will generate an estimated 8.4 million megawatt hours, enough to power more than 760,000 homes for a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from the road.
Since 2009, USDA Rural Development (#USDARD) has invested $11 billion to start or expand 103,000 rural businesses; helped 1.1 million rural residents buy homes; funded nearly 7,000 community facilities, such as schools, public safety, and healthcare facilities; financed 185,000 miles of electric transmission and distribution lines; and helped bring high-speed Internet access to nearly 6 million rural residents and businesses. To learn more, visit www.usda.gov/results.
For more information or any questions contact: Erin McDuff, 503-414-3304.