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Going Green with Rural Development

Posted by Jessie Scott, Rural Development Communications Intern, U.S. Department of Agriculture in Energy Rural
Jul 20, 2011
Use of wind turbines for renewable energy production on Midwestern farms is on the rise. Photo courtesy of USDA Rural Development.
Use of wind turbines for renewable energy production on Midwestern farms is on the rise. Photo courtesy of USDA Rural Development.

As more Americans strive to be eco-friendly and environmentally conscious, the buzz surrounding renewable energy has exploded.  Millions across the country already do their part every day to recycle, reduce carbon emissions and make the earth a little bit greener, but how can you do more?  Rural Development has programs available to provide funding for renewable energy projects.  Here’s a glimpse of the investments made in renewable energy thanks to partnerships between our agency and the rural individuals and businesses dedicated to creating a cleaner world:

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) was designed specifically to spur renewable energy projects across the country.  This program recently clarified rules to include flexible fuel pumps, sometimes referred to as “blender pumps”, to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that will offer Americans more renewable energy options.

REAP is already an established program in funding anaerobic digesters and wind turbines.  Kewaunee County, Wis., is a prime example of the benefit of renewable energy investments.  The Wisconsin County has two anaerobic digesters and three wind farms that generate enough energy to power 8,000 homes, roughly the entire county.

Not sure if a wind turbine is a viable option for your operation?  We offer funding for feasibility studies to evaluate the technology as a possible energy source.  Petoskey Plastics, an Indiana company, recently received a grant to measure wind speed, velocity and direction to determine if wind power was a feasible option for the recycling and manufacturing facility.

The USDA Rural Electric Program provides assistance to rural utilities and has started making a series of new investments that will change the way both customers and utilities look at energy.  Hawaii and Colorado recently received funding for smart grid technologies that can provide data to consumers and utilities to better manage power uses and costs.  Smart grid technologies will not only allow customers the opportunity to lower their bills by reducing peak hour usage, but it will also increase the efficiency of energy delivery.

Rural Development also has a variety of Housing Programs available to ensure all Americans living in rural communities have access to decent, safe and energy efficient housing.   Whether building a new home or restoring an existing residence, recipients are opting for design and construction standards that will increase energy efficiency.  A new home in Kentucky is leading the way by using 75 percent less energy than a standard newly constructed home.

Also, the Community Facilities Program is designed to develop essential community facilities for public use in rural areas.   A Nebraska library embraced the renewable energy trend and installed an energy-efficient heating and cooling system as part of a series of improvements.

We are always striving to serve rural America in the best way possible and this means learning, growing and adapting our programs to fit your needs.  Tell us ways that we can further help rural America.  And please share with us the ways you promote renewable energy in your rural communities.

To follow our discussion of renewable energy, check us out on Twitter.

Category/Topic: Energy Rural