Solar energy gets permission to go rural
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has just approved spending as part of its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to fund grants and loans for 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide, according to Fox News. This funding amounts to around $63 million and will be distributed to these REAP projects, which are estimated to generate or save 207.8 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy each year. This number is enough to power over 13,600 homes each years.
Sowega Live, a local Georgia news and radio station, reported that one of these instances is for Blue Sky Poultry in Georgia, where the company has been chosen to be the recipient of a $16,094 grant to install solar panels on the roofs of their chicken coops. This system is projected to generate around 36,300 kWh each year.
Furthermore, A.B. Phillips & Sons Fruit Farm in Ohio produces cherries, apples, plums, grapes and a variety of other fruits, and will get a $18,000 grant for a photovoltaic solar system to install on his farm to generate around 13,000 kWh a year.
Currently, REAP has already benefited many rural farms and businesses, such as Mt. Abram in Maine, which became the first solar-powered ski area in the state and the second-largest in the country. It is equipped with a 803-panel system that was funded by a REAP grant. It will reach about 70 percent of its power needs each year through the solar system that will generate around 280,000 kWh.
“This funding will have far-reaching economic and environmental impacts nationwide, particularly in rural communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects supports home-grown energy sources, creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas pollution and helps usher in a more secure energy future for the nation.”
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