Tammy Baldwin
Press Release

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Applauds USDA Investment in Wisconsin Energy Projects

Nearly $1.5 million investment will support solar and other renewable energy projects to create jobs and promote energy independence

By - Oct 28th, 2015 10:03 am

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin today applauded a recent announcement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack that USDA is awarding nearly $1.5 million in grants that will help more than 25 rural small businesses and agricultural producers in Wisconsin reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. The funding is for energy efficiency improvements and/or renewable energy systems.

Through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), USDA is financing more than 1,100 projects in every state. Since REAP was first introduced in 2003, over $19 million in grants have been provided to over 350 projects across Wisconsin.

“These major investments will help farmers and rural businesses increase their energy efficiency and reduce their energy costs—which leaves them more money to grow their businesses and boost our Made in Wisconsin economy,” said Senator Baldwin.

“More rural business owners and ag producers are incorporating energy-saving measures into their business plans,” Vilsack said. “These actions improve an operation’s bottom line and help reduce its carbon footprint. This funding will help incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology and reduce energy costs. But beyond the local benefits seen by a company saving energy costs and the global benefits of reducing carbon emissions, this funding will also create American jobs by supporting energy production and efficiency installations that are made in rural America.”

Senator Baldwin has been a champion for REAP during her time in Congress. In 2013, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to the Senate Agriculture Committee to advocate for full $900 million in mandatory funding for USDA energy programs in the 2014 Farm Bill. In March 2015, Senator Baldwin continued her support of these critical investments in a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee urging full funding for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. Additionally, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Agriculture Subcommittee, Senator Baldwin supported an amendment offered by Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) that would have provided full funding to rural renewable energy programs.

Congress created the REAP program in the 2002 Farm Bill and reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill because of its success in supporting the rural economy and innovative rural solutions to energy challenges. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past seven years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has helped finance 10,753 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that have reduced energy costs for rural businesses nationwide. During this period, USDA has provided almost $360 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners. When operational, these projects will generate/save an estimated 8.4 million megawatt hours – enough to power more than 760,000 homes for a year and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide. That’s the equivalent of removing more than 1 million cars from the road.

Funding of each award announced is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement.

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