USDA announced this week it is investing more than $6.7 million in 544 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation.
USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack made the announcement during a visit to the Snake River Brewing Company, in Jackson, Wyo. The company received a $13,810 USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant to install a solar panel to generate energy for the business.
"These grants will help farmers, ranchers and small business owners use more renewable energy, which cuts carbon pollution, reduces our dependence on foreign oil, saves businesses money on their energy bills and creates American jobs," Vilsack said. "All of these are crucial components to developing healthier, more economically vibrant rural communities."
According to USDA, these grants will help cut energy costs, create jobs and promote energy independence.
REAP was created by the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized in 2014. Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million to support more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in grants and loans for almost 2,900 renewable energy systems. For the remaining 5,900 projects, USDA helped rural small businesses and agricultural producers make energy efficiency improvements such as lighting; heating, ventilation and cooling; irrigation; insulation and motor replacements.