Tag Archives: USDA

USDA Helps Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

USDA News Release

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PDF, 146 KB) to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

USDA is providing the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Read the entire news release here.

INDUSTRY NEWS

SELF-COMMITTING IN POWER MARKETS

Are old Midwest coal plants pushing renewables offline?, E&E News
The utility process of self-committing or self-scheduling power plants to run even when there’s cheaper energy available on the grid is a complex issue and opaque to outsiders. Increasingly, there are questions about whether it’s slowing a transition to cleaner energy. 

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets, 
Union of Concerned Scientists. Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.

Next deadline for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants is October 31st

USDA

LINCOLN, Nebraska. The next deadline for Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) grants is October 31, 2015.  This deadline for grant applications has designated funding for small projects requesting $20,000 or less (25% of total eligible project costs). Grant requests for this round have a simplified, streamlined process and can be as low as $2,500 for renewable energy projects and $1,500 for energy efficiency projects. All agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, who derive 50% or more of their gross income from agricultural operations are eligible. Businesses in a rural area, meeting the Small Business Administration size standards, may also apply. A private entity, a rural utility, and rural electric cooperatives are typically eligible, however non-profit and public bodies are not eligible.

USDA Rural Development provides financial assistance in the form of grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements through the REAP.  This program provides funds for the purchase and installation of renewable energy systems and to make energy-efficiency improvements.  The renewable energy projects range from installation of solar, geothermal, wind, and biomass; and energy efficiency improvements to irrigation systems, poultry houses, upgrading air conditioning, lighting and refrigeration systems.

Applications are due by 4:30 p.m. CST on October 31, 2015.  Please contact Jeff Carpenter, State Energy Coordinator at the Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Office, Suite 308, Federal Building 100 Centennial Mall North Lincoln, Nebraska 68508, call 402-437-5554 or email jeff.carpenter@ne.usda.gov.

The next funding deadline will be April 30, 2016 for projects of any size with maximum grants limited to $500,000 for renewable energy projects and $250,000 for energy efficiency projects (25% of total eligible project costs).  Any eligible applications not funded during the October 31, 2015 funding cycle will be reconsidered.

NEWS RELEASE

Nebraska incentives, grants and loans for renewables and energy efficiency- 46 programs (DSIRE). The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is the most comprehensive source of information on incentives and policies that support renewables and energy efficiency in the United States. Established in 1995, DSIRE is operated by the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center at N.C. State University and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy: http://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program?state=NE

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) Fact Sheet, Solar Energy Industries Association

A Nebraska Farm’s Renewable Energy Enterprise Is Reaping Profits While Protecting Soil & Water

Danny and Josie Kluthe own the first on-farm electrical generator in Nebraska powered by manure methane. The methane is harvested from an anaerobic manure digester on their swine farm in Dodge, Nebraska to produce electricity and compressed natural gas (CNG).

Some of their homegrown, renewable energy is used for the farm. The excess, enough to power approximately 50 homes, is sold to the Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) through the Kluthe’s alternative energy business, called OLean Energy. NPPD distributes the energy to neighboring Cuming County Public Power District.

It all started with the Kluthe’s desire to be good neighbors, to control the odor from their farm, particularly with a church nearby.  At a symposium  presented by the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality and the Nebraska Public Power District, Danny discovered that the manure from an anaerobic digester essentially comes out odorless. “So it seemed like a perfect fit.”

The USDA and the Nebraska Environmental Trust provided grants to help fund the construction of the farm’s electrical generator. The manure methane produced by the digester is piped to the generator to power it.

“We are displacing $4-per-gallon diesel with the methane we produce here on the farm, so the payback is phenomenal. We now can make our own electricity, our own vehicle fuel and our own fuel to heat the barns. It’s nice to be energy-independent and not be at the mercy of energy costs.”

To read more about the Kluthe family and additional ways they are protecting the soil and water resources at Bacon Hill, share their story and connect with others, click on this link: http://globegazette.com/article_c46cafba-2e1a-50bc9716db629ab74df1.html#.Umktng5a4OQ.twitter

The Midwest Rural Energy Council’s website provides resources on Anaerobic Digesters and Biogas, including: Anaerobic Digester Basics, Financial Assistance & Economics of Using Anaerobic Digesters, Farmers’ Digester Experience, Organizations that Support Anaerobic Digestion Endeavors, and more: www.mrec.org/anaerobicdigestion.html

The US Environmental Protection Agency’s AgStar Program provides an online Anaerobic Digester (AD) 101 guide, answers to Frequent Questions, Fact Sheets, and additional resources at this link: www.epa.gov/agstar/anaerobic/index.html