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USDA distributes renewable energy, efficiency grants

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced the distribution of more than $17.5 million in Section 9006 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program Grants to 375 recipients in 36 states today.

The grant program is part of the Bush administration's effort to develop renewable energy resources as well as improve efficiency of existing systems.

"These grants will directly promote energy savings and increased energy production in rural America," Johanns said.

The 2002 farm bill authorized the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program. Recipients of the funding include agricultural producers or rural small businesses demonstrating financial need.

Rural Development grant funds can be used to pay up to 25% of the eligible project costs. Additionally, the program provides loan guarantees up to $10 million to fund up to 50% of eligible projects. Over $4.6 million in federal funds has been allocated in loan guarantees and grants under the program earlier this year.

Eligible projects include those that derive energy from a wind, solar, biomass, or geothermal source, or hydrogen derived from biomass or water using wind, solar, or geothermal energy sources. Awards are made on a competitive basis for the purchase of renewable energy systems and to make energy improvements.

Many of the projects announced today will increase energy efficiency or produce renewable energy. Energique, Inc. of Woodbine, Iowa, for example, will receive a grant of $31,444 to purchase and install a geothermal heating and cooling system to provide energy savings of up to 60%.

States receiving funding include Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and South Dakota, among others. Since 2003 when the program was established, USDA has provided $87.3 million in grants and $34.3 million in loan guarantees to 844 applicants.

Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced the distribution of more than $17.5 million in Section 9006 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program Grants to 375 recipients in 36 states today.

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