HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that USDA has selected for funding 450 projects nationwide, including 22 in Tennessee, to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and use renewable energy technology in their operation. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), part of the 2008 Farm Bill.
Borla Properties, which manufactures advanced exhaust systems, received a grant for $7,810. The grant will fund energy efficient upgrades to four broiler production buildings at the Carter County facility.
Tennessee small business owner Rick Alexander is using a $46,305 REAP grant and investing another $325,000 to create the first solar powered business in Maury County. Electricity is the largest expense for the climate controlled storage facility he built as a creative re-use of a former furniture building in the downtown business district. The 260 panel, 60 kW solar photovoltaic system is expected to generate more than 71,000 kWh, enough electricity to meet over half of the energy needs of his business for the next two decades. By also participating in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Generation Partners program through Columbia Power and Water, Alexander earns a premium on each clean kW produced, more than enough to cover the average monthly cost of electricity for his businesses.
REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for businesses. In all, USDA announced nearly $7.4 million in energy grants today.
USDA Rural Development invests in jobs, infrastructure, community development, homeownership and affordable rental housing to improve the economic health of rural communities. During the last three years the agency has assisted at least 1.5 million Tennessee families and businesses in 158 communities, investing more than $2.5 billion through affordable loans, loan guarantees and grants.
For more information on Rural Development programs available in Tennessee contact the Rural Development Area Office that serves your county, www.rurdev.usda.gov/TN-Contacts.html, or call toll free at 1-800-342-3149.