Tag Archives: Farm Energy.Org

Turning to turbines: As commodity prices remain low, wind energy leases offer a welcome source of income for farmers

 By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

owh

Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago. As commodity prices threaten to reach decade lows and farmers struggle to meet debt payments, wind has saved family farms across a wide swath of the heartland. Read more. 

Photo: Four 1.7-megawatt General Electric wind turbines on the Brockhaus farm near Creston, Nebraska, feed power into the Loup Power District grid on Thursday. Credit: Matt Dixon, Omaha World-Herald

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Rural Areas Benefit from new REAP Awards

Farm Energy.Org

Minden Farm

The USDA announced another round of awards for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in mid-July, bringing benefits to 56 states and territories and to a wide range of agricultural sectors. REAP continues to help reduce costs, protect and increase jobs and to produce homegrown clean energy . . . Solar energy in rural settings continues to grow strongly with REAP with 337 awards (including hybrid technology projects) for $5 million. These projects are very diverse geographically, covering nearly all the states. They are also diverse in size, ranging from about $3,000 to $250,000. The average solar award was $15,000 . . . The award list can be found here. More award announcements will be issued in coming months.
Read the entire Farm Energy post here.

ALSO POSTED ON FARM ENERGY’S WEBSITE
Harvesting Sunshine More Lucrative Than Crops at Some U.S. Farms

Photo: This 21-kilowatt PV system on a family farm in Minden, Nebraska provides most of the farm’s energy needs. The project was partly funded by a USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant. Additional financing was obtained through the Nebraska Energy Office’s low-interest loan program for solar installations. Credit: Graham Christensen of GC Resolve

At a time when Midwest rural economies are continuing to decline, solar energy projects funded in-part by REAP grants, along with solar and wind energy development in general, provide a means to reverse this trend, contributing to the economic strength and well being of our communities.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Rural economy continues to weaken, Omaha World-Herald

Wisconsin’s Dairyland Power Announces Historic Co-op Solar Advance

Farm Energy.Org

The Wisconsin cooperatives' new facilities will use sun-tracking technology to boost energy generation. Photo credit: pv magazine

The Wisconsin cooperatives’ new facilities will use sun-tracking technology to boost energy generation. Photo credit: pv magazine

Wisconsin’s Dairyland Power Cooperative and its member cooperatives announced a historic investment in solar energy on Wednesday, unveiling plans to build more than 15 megawatts of new solar energy at 12 locations across Wisconsin . . . Brad Klein, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center, said the Dairyland announcement sends a strong signal to rural electric cooperatives across the Midwest.

Read more here.

According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, “Member-owned electric cooperatives have nearly 240 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity online or on the drawing board across the country.”

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) is the national service organization for more than 900 nonprofit rural electric cooperatives and public power districts providing retail electric service to more than 42 million consumers in 47 states and whose retail sales account for approximately 12 percent of total electricity sales in the United States. NRECA’s members include consumer-owned local distribution systems — the vast majority — and 66 generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives, such as the Dairyland Power Cooperative, that supply wholesale power to their distribution cooperative owner-members.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Wisconsin electric cooperative to procure power from 15 MW of solar PV, by Christian Roselund, pv magazine. Wisconsin currently only has around 25 MW of installed PV, which means that this 15 MW will increase the state’s installed solar capacity by 40%.

Dairyland Power Cooperative Invests Heavily in Solar Energy, by Hope Kirwin, Wisconsin Public Radio. Dairyland’s Business Development Manager Craig Harmes said the new facilities will use sun-tracking technology instead of the typical fixed array.

Congress approved funding for Farm Bill clean energy programs in fiscal year 2015

– email from Andy Olsen, Senior Policy Advocate, Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC)

The 2015 appropriations bill (“Cromnibus”) contained some good news amid some cuts. We are happy to report that farm energy progress will continue in 2015 – with some near-term project funding opportunities:

  • Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) mandatory funding was not cut, and REAP received minor discretionary funding of $1.35 million.
  • Biorefinery Assistance Program mandatory funding was reduced from $50 million to $30 million.
  • Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) mandatory funding was reduced from $25 million to $23 million.

Grants and loan guarantees for energy efficiency and renewable energy of all sorts include $250 million in mandatory funding and $100 million in discretionary funding over the five year period from 2014 to 2018. Click here for a summary of additional Energy Title Programs.

More details on the Farm Bill are available on ELPC’s Farm Energy.Org 

People and small businesses interested in seeking project funding from REAP should start gearing up. The FY2014 mandatory funding of $50 million and FY2015 funding will be released together, making for one of the largest funding solicitations in program history. The USDA is accepting applications now, and ELPC will soon release the next funding notice.

REAP Application Resources and Templates

REAP Nebraska USDA Contact
Debra Yocum, USDA Rural Development
100 Centennial Mall North, Room 152
Federal Building
Lincoln, NE 68508
402-437-5554
debra.yocum@ne.usda.gov

Farm Energy Success Stories, 2014 Edition
A new report from the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) highlights clean energy projects made possible with grants and loan guarantees from the Farm Bill’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). You can read these stories here.