Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Loans and Grants to Improve Energy Efficiency and Benefit Ag Producers | USDA Newsroom
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News Release

Release No. 0536.10
Weldon Freeman (202) 690-1384
Delane Johnson (919) 873-2033

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Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Loans and Grants to Improve Energy Efficiency and Benefit Ag Producers

Projects Help North Carolina Farms and Rural Businesses Become More Energy Efficient

DUBLIN, N.C., Oct. 19, 2010 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is providing loans and grants for nine renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in North Carolina under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The funding includes support for wind projects that will generate renewable energy for businesses and agricultural producers. Vilsack made the announcement at the 14th Annual Agriculture Appreciation Dinner, hosted by USDA, the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service and Bladen County at a local vineyard.

"These loans and grants will generate and save energy for North Carolina's farmers and business for many years to come, while promoting Obama administration efforts to transition to a renewable energy economy," Vilsack said. "Farmers have significant opportunity to reduce their energy consumption or generate income from new sources by producing renewable energy that can be used by other consumers through USDA's REAP program."

The funding totals $1.6 million and is expected to generate significant cost savings for recipients as they replace outdated equipment and install systems that create renewable energy or reduce energy use.

For example, the Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation in Ahoskie will use a $100,000 REAP grant to offer an energy audit program to local agriculture producers and rural small businesses. Dennis L. Austin of Marshville was selected to receive a $19,618 grant to help pay the cost of replacing four 35-year old poultry houses with two new energy efficient ones. As a result, Austin's poultry operation is expected to realize 55 percent annual saving in electricity and propane costs.

Many rural businesses and farmers in North Carolina have benefited from the REAP program during the past few years. One previous recipient is SanDan Farms of McLeansville, which received a renewable energy grant to install an on-farm 24 kW solar PV array. San Dan Farms is a contract poultry operation and with the addition of the solar array, the farm will be able to generate solar power for sell, which will supplement the farm's income. The project utilizes space on the farm that is not needed for agriculture production. A $48,750 REAP grant helped the farm complete the project. The grant represented 25 percent of the total project costs.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance. More information on the REAP program, which was authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, is at:

Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. The following is a complete list of North Carolina REAP recipients announced today.

State of North Carolina REAP Recipients:

  • Billy Ray Adock – $5,515 grant to reduce the amount of propane used by installing insulation and repairing doors in tobacco barns.
  • Dennis L. Austin –$19,618 grant to replace four 35-year old poultry houses with two new energy efficient houses. This project is expected to save an estimated 55 percent in electrical and propane costs.
  • Pasty Elliott –$17,586 grant to make energy efficiency improvements to poultry houses that are expected to reduce energy consumption 70 percent annually.
  • Perry B. Griffin – $4,484 grant to reduce annual energy costs by an estimated 32 percent by enclosing the sidewalls of poultry houses.
  • Harris Farms Partnership – $11,538 grant to replace a diesel-powered irrigation system with an efficient electric-powered one. The change is expected to result in annual energy savings of 88 percent.
  • J Bird Farms –$6,417 grant to insulate the attics of poultry houses, install energy efficient lights, stir fans and electronic controllers, resulting in an estimated annual energy savings of 31 percent.
  • Martins Creek Solar NC, LLC – $926,000 loan and a $500,000 grant to purchase equipment for a solar production facility that will be located at Martins Creek School. When completed, the project is expected to produce 500 kW, enough renewable energy to power an estimated 545 homes per year.
  • Steven Billings Farm – $15,004 grant to make energy efficient improvements to poultry houses that will reduce energy use by an estimated 64 percent.
  • Roanoke Electric Membership Corporation – $100,000 grant to help the corporation in offering an energy audit program to agriculture producers and small businesses.

Through its Rural Development mission area, USDA administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of 6,100 employees located in the nation's capital and over 600 state and local offices. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers, and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $142 billion in loans and loan guarantees.


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