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Rural Development Maine State Director Says USDA is Leading the Way in Renewable Energy Development Efforts

The Maine Wind Energy Conference entitled Maine’s Wind Energy Future: New Opportunities, New Challenges, was held at the Augusta Civic Center on January 24 and 25. As State Director I was asked to address a crowd of nearly 200 stakeholders in Maine’s energy future, giving a keynote in which I addressed USDA Rural Development’s vital role as a leader in the future of renewable energy development in Maine and across the country.

For example, USDA Rural Development has assisted Maine’s island community of Vinalhaven, thanks to a USDA Electric Program Loan in the amount of $9.5 million and High Energy Cost Grant of $500,000. As a result of these funds, three wind turbines were erected in the fall of 2009 to serve the islands of Vinalhaven and Northhaven by providing power to an average number of 1,900 consumers. This significantly reduced the cost of power for these consumers, while harnessing the renewable energy of the wind to do so. Since Fiscal Year 2006 USDA Rural Development has invested a total of $15,129,101 in renewable energy or energy efficiency projects in Maine.

We are committed to developing our renewable energy resources in Maine- to finding and harnessing resources that underscore America’s commitment to our environment and commitment to reducing our consumption of fossil fuels, and to investing in the future of Maine’s rural communities.

The two-day conference centered on making Maine “a national leader in wind power,” including industrial scale, community scale, and small scale wind systems, and attracted participation from a variety of groups including the Governor’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, the University of Maine, the Maine Port Authority, National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Windustry from Minnesota, and the USDA Farm Service Agency and many others. Approximately 250 people turned out including exhibitors and speakers according to the Conference’s organizer.

To find out more about USDA’s renewable energy efforts click here.

State Director Virginia Manuel addresses the Maine Wind Energy Conference.

State Director Virginia Manuel addresses the Maine Wind Energy Conference.

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