Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday said the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $300 million to help hundreds of small businesses across the country save money on their energy costs by adopting renewable sources or implementing more efficient energy options.
Vilsack made the announcement at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, today during a meeting with several local business owners who will make use of these loans and grants.
Nine Texas businesses received more than $870,000 in REAP grants Tuesday today, and two businesses received loans of $5 million each. In Austin, the Vickery Wholesale Greenhouse Inc. received a $28,238 REAP grant to install a 40.32 kW roof-mounted solar array. The electricity produced from this new installation will offset the company’s annual energy consumption with an expected output of 198 million BTUs.
Vilsack also announced that Pedernales Electric Cooperative of Johnson City, Texas, received an Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program (EECLP) loan of more than $68 million to fund system-wide energy efficiency improvements to assist a rural portion of the co-op’s service territory. Pedernales’ energy efficiency program will offer members low-interest loans of up to $20,000 for solar photovoltaic and energy storage equipment.
“Cutting our energy waste is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest ways to help families save money on their energy bills while reducing harmful carbon pollution. Over the course of nearly eight years, the Obama Administration has taken strong actions to advance energy efficiency in our homes and businesses,” Vilsack said.
“Through efficiency upgrades and private-sector partnerships, America has been able to cut its carbon emissions, create jobs and save families hundreds of dollars at the pump and on their utility bills every year. The Rural Energy for America Program alone has helped roughly 15,000 rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers improve their bottom lines by installing renewable energy systems and energy efficiency solutions. When businesses lower their energy costs, they are also able to expand their services and contribute to stronger local economies,” he added.