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Rural Energy for America Program grants awarded

ST. PAUL — One hundred rural small business and agriculture producers in Minnesota were assisted by funding through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in 2013. Funding for 75 of these projects was recently announced by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.

The 2013 REAP funding will provide $2.3 million to Minnesota-based rural small businesses and farmers who will then leverage personal funds and other incentives to construct $10 million worth of projects throughout the state. The total number of projects funded and total dollars awarded represent the second highest in the nation and reflect Minnesota’s continued success in securing REAP funds for the state’s applicants.

Authorized by the now-expired 2008 Farm Bill, REAP helps rural small businesses and agriculture producers by providing a 25 percent cost-share grant for the construction of a renewable energy system or to make energy efficient improvements to existing equipment. The average grant per project was $23,350, however, projects ranged from a $4,000 energy-efficient lighting grant to $385,000 for a large solar array. Additional recipients include the installation of small solar, geothermal heating systems, small wind turbines, efficient grain dryers and other building improvements that will help conserve energy. The total amount of energy saved and generated from the 100 projects equals the annual electric usage of about 1,200 residents.

In this area, grant recipients included: Tyson Anderson, Cottonwood County, $20,000 for a geothermal project; Bill Brant, Jackson County, $9,996 for a geothermal project; Loren Christiansen, Murray County, $12,468 for a grain dryer; Colonial Cleaners, Nobles County, $10,510 for energy efficient building and equipment improvements; Elite Mechanical Systems LLC, Cottonwood County, $11,500 for a geothermal project; Farmers Cooperative Oil Association, Cottonwood County, $21,395 for a flexible fuel pump; Federated Rural Electric, Jackson County, $10,588 for a geothermal project; Mark Gervais, Murray County, $10,686 for a geothermal project; Thomas Glaser, Jackson County, $5,167 for a geothermal project; Andy Henning, Nobles County, $8,701 for a geothermal project; Geoffrey Johnson, Cottonwood County, $48,625 for a grain dryer; Jubilee Fruits and Vegetables, Cottonwood County, $23,344 for a geothermal/ solar/biomass hybrid project; Wesley Kroeker, Cottonwood County, $9,650 for a solar PV array project; George Olsem, Jackson County, $8,279 for a geothermal project; RD Miller Farms LLP, Murray County, $19,887 for a grain dryer project; Rodney Schulze, Pipestone County, $8,586 for a geothermal project; John Soderholm, Nobles County, $27,090 for a geothermal project; Son-D-Farms, Inc., Nobles County, $10,886 for a geothermal project and $7,938 for energy efficient building and equipment improvements.

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