Lander business gets solar energy grant from USDA

Sep 1, 2016 From staff and wire reports

The business is one of 15,000 to receive energy help from the U.S. agency since 2009.

Gary Blackwelder of Lander has been granted more than $24,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to purchase and install a solar renewable energy system.

Blackwelder's is one of 10 projects in Wyoming, and 821 across the nation, that received USDA funding to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations.

Rural Energy for America Program and will be used to make energy efficiency improvements and install renewable energy systems.

"Since 2009, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped roughly 15,000 small businesses and farms save enough energy to power about 730,000 homes, replace over 34 million barrels of oil, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 5 million metric tons annually - the equivalent of removing 1.1 million cars from our roads," agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said. "These investments in clean energy are good for the environment, are good for each business's bottom line, and they support the broader rural economy by encouraging the production of renewable energy sources."

USDA is providing $43.2 million in loan guarantees and $11.6 million in grants through REAP for projects in every state, as well as in the Virgin Islands, the Western Pacific and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient's meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

The USDA is accepting applications for future REAP funding. For application deadlines and details on how to apply, contact the USDAenergy coordinatorfor Wyoming, Debra Anderson, at 672-5820, ext. 106, or

From 2009 to date, REAP has helped finance more than 11,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that have reduced energy costs for roughly 15,000 rural businesses. During this period, USDA has provided more than $373 million in grants and almost $481 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.

The Rural Energy for America Program also helps businesses create jobs, helps farmers and rural businesses reduce their carbon footprints, and helps the country move closer to energy independence.

Congress created the REAP program in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the program's success, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of at least $50 million annually for the duration of the five-year Farm Bill.

Helping thousands of rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers shift away from fossil-based energy by installing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions has been one of the most important components of USDA's climate mitigation investments, according to a recent press release. Thanks to USDA investments in renewable energy projects of all sizes, rural Americans are saving more than 10.4 billion kWh - enough energy to power more than 959,000 American homes annually.

USDA has invested $38 billion in electric loans and more than $1 billion for smart grid technologies since 2009, helping build more than 185,000 miles of transmission and distribution lines serving approximately 5 million rural customers annually. Today, more than 2,200 USDA wind and solar renewable electricity generation projects power more than 130,000 homes. More information on these energy investments can be found in USDA's entry on Medium, "How Food and Forestry Are Adapting to a Changing Climate."

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