The Roundup -

Montana REAP's the Benefits as USDA Invests $68 Million in 540 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects Nationwide

Funding includes loan guarantees and grants for solar energy to create jobs, promote energy independence and advance the use of renewable fuels


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Thursday, September 15, 2014 that USDA is investing in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. Montana was awarded five of the grants totaling $168,000.

“We are very proud to be able to assist Montanans in investing in renewable resources,” says USDA Rural Development stare director Anthony Preite. “The grants received in Montana averaged more than $33,000 and that will transfer into thousands more in energy savings.”

“These loan guarantees and grants will have far-reaching impacts nationwide, particularly in the rural communities where these projects are located,” Vilsack said.  “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency will continue the unprecedented increase in home-grown energy sources and American energy independence we’ve seen in recent years.  This is creating jobs, providing new economic opportunities and leading the way to a more secure energy future.”

The funding is being provided through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  REAP was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill.

The announcement came on the same day as President Obama announced new executive actions to further advance the development of solar technologies across the country. These new investments in solar will reduce America’s energy consumption, cut carbon pollution by nearly 300 million metric tons – equivalent to taking more than 60 million cars off the road for a year – and save businesses nearly $45 billion on their energy bills. The renewed effort to invest in solar energy also includes commitments from a broad coalition of 50 public and private sector partners, including leading industry, community development organizations and housing providers in 28 states.  To learn more about this new Obama Administration initiative to increase the use of solar power, visit the White House website.

“USDA is proud to play a key role in Obama Administration’s efforts to promote the use of solar technologies,” Vilsack said.  “Of the REAP projects funded today, 240 projects are for solar investments of $5.2 million in grants and $55.3 million in loans.” 

For example, USDA is awarding a grant of $44,642 to On Site Management in Bozeman, MT, to put a 49.5 KW rooftop solar array on a business in Belgrade, MT.

Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable energy systems including solar, wind, renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen, and geothermal.

Preite said, “Further information on the application process for funding future REAP projects will be available in the near future and USDA Rural Development will be aggressively seeking new applicants.”

Funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has supported more than 8,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide.  During this period, USDA has provided more than $276 million in grants and $268 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.

President Obama’s historic investments in rural America have made our rural communities stronger. Under his leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America’s economy, small towns and rural communities.

For more information on the REAP program and other programs offered by USDA Rural Development Montana, call (406) 585-2540 or logon to


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