NOTE: This week on the USDA Blog, we’ve been featuring the stories of America’s Harvest Heroes who, like farmers across the nation, are working this harvest season to secure the bounty of healthy food American agriculture is renowned for. From laying the foundation for the next generation of farmers putting down roots in rural America, supporting the fruit and vegetable growers who are helping to build healthier communities, bolstering new markets for the products of agricultural innovation, to harvesting renewable energy that is made in Rural America, with USDA’s support our farmers are yielding strong results for every American. This blog focuses on two heroes of a different kind of harvest – clean, renewable energy that is #RuralMade.
I spent some time in Montana earlier this month to attend the Harvesting Clean Energy conference in Billings. We talked about options for continuing to support clean energy development, whether it’s bio-based, geothermal, solar, or wind – and how rural America fits in to the picture of clean energy development. Read more »
The recently installed solar panels on the roof of Ideal Dairy in Richfield, Utah save them around $400 per month in utility costs on average.
Last month, Secretary Vilsack announced the opening of the new application cycle for our Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). In addition to the announcement, RBS conducted a national REAP stakeholder forum which discussed program changes and provided examples of successful projects from previous years.
For example, Ideal Dairy restaurant of Richfield, Utah used a REAP grant to leverage a loan from Zions Bank and install an array of solar panels on the roof of its retail location. The addition has saved an average of $400 a month in electricity expenditures for owners Kristi and Gary Sorenson. A larger scale solar project in Guayanila, Puerto Rico allowed a major employer – Master Paints and Chemicals Corporation – to completely offset its $180,000 annual energy expenses and give it independence from fossil fuel-based energy. Read more »
Senator Al Franken and Minn. Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer participate in a roundtable meeting on the USDA Rural Energy For America Program.
Throughout the first quarter of 2012, the 47 Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) State Offices held energy stakeholder meetings across the country to discuss ways the Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) can assist agricultural producers and rural businesses with their energy needs. Meeting participants included local lenders, grant writers, small business owners, and local, state and federal government agencies. Read more »
Freeborn Lumber Company owner John Miller and USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer inside the room that operates Freeborn’s geothermal system. The system was installed with support from USDA Rural Development.
John Miller got the call at 12:45 a.m. on Sept. 7, 2007.
Freeborn Lumber Company – the business John’s grandfather bought in 1946 and John purchased from his father in 1986 – was burning to the ground. Less than 30 minutes later, the nearly 100-year-old building was destroyed. Lightning struck a phone line next to a gas line and that was it. Firefighters arrived less than five minutes after getting called, but there was nothing they could do. Read more »
As the team at Legend Seeds of De Smet, South Dakota, gears up for spring and the 2012 growing season, they do so from a newly-constructed, state-of-the-art facility, located just east of their former space on Highway 14. The new office, seed lab and expanded warehouse space were designed to better accommodate the additional full-time office staff needed to support the stretching trade area and growing field staff for the Legend organization. Thanks to a USDA program, the building is also energy efficient.
USDA Business & Cooperative Program Director Dana Kleinsasser(left), Area Specialist Darlene Bresson, and Legend Seeds President Glen Davis check out the biomass boiler system, which saves 60 percent of the cost of heating the seed company building, compared to the previous system.
The former office space that was purchased in 1992 had been remodeled and updated over the years but Legend owner, Glen Davis, recognized that the increasing demand for productivity would be best met if he augmented the workspace and workflow for his talented team. In addition to a fresh contemporary look and serviceable layout, the new space boasts an impressive, highly-efficient heating and cooling system powered by a 250,000 BTU biomass boiler. Read more »
Photovoltaic cells recently installed at Red Caboose Winery in Texas were funded in part by a grant from USDA Rural Development
Red Caboose Winery, a family owned business in Meridian, Texas, was recently selected as a recipient of a USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant. A $15,617 grant is being used to help lower the energy costs of running the rural winery that produces 10,000 cases of wine annually. Read more »