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Oregon farms, ranches land federal renewable energy grants

Nine Oregon farms, ranches and small businesses have received funding from the USDA Rural Energy for America Program to build small-scale renewable energy projects including solar power and hydroelectricity.
George Plaven

Capital Press

Published on October 30, 2018 10:37AM

E.J. Harris/EO Media Group File
Nine renewable energy projects have received federal funding across rural Oregon.

E.J. Harris/EO Media Group File Nine renewable energy projects have received federal funding across rural Oregon.

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Nine Oregon farms and ranches will receive financial assistance from the USDA to build small-scale solar power and hydroelectric projects, saving a combined $100,000 per year on their utility bills.

Funding comes from the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides grants and loans for renewable energy, such as wind, solar, hydro and geothermal installations, as well as energy efficiency improvements like insulation and replacing old farm equipment.

The national program recently awarded $427,739 in Oregon for nine projects from Roseburg to Enterprise that will generate a total of 901,160 kilowatt-hours of renewable energy each year. That’s enough juice to power roughly 80 homes.

John Holman, energy programs coordinator for USDA Rural Development in Oregon, said the Rural Energy for America Program is broken down into two funding streams — grants, which cover up to 25 percent of the total cost for smaller projects, and loan guarantees for larger, utility-scale projects covering up to 75 percent of the total cost.

Since the program was first authorized under the 2014 Farm Bill, Holman said the agency has awarded grants in Oregon for 136 projects totaling more than $3.5 million, and loan guarantees for 27 projects topping $165.5 million. Collectively, these projects are expected to produce more than 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity.

“The main purpose of rural development is economic development for our rural communities,” Holman said. “(This program) is helping businesses and agricultural producers to save energy.”

While the 2018 Farm Bill remains in limbo, Holman said he anticipates the program will continue to receive funding, but cannot speak directly to its future. Small businesses are eligible to apply so long as the are located in rural areas — that excludes Portland, Salem, Eugene, Bend and Medford. Any farm or ranch is eligible to apply regardless of location.

The latest round of projects includes:

• Triple Creek Ranch, Joseph — $108,625 award for an 85-kilowatt hydro turbine that will replace 95 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $18,381 per year.

• Greater Northwest Nursery, Silverton — $98,779 award for a 250-kilowatt solar array that will replace 64 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $27,089 per year.

• Hanna Limited Partnership, Roseburg — $60,923 award for a 94-kilowatt solar array that will replace 14 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $9,827 per year.

• Chapin Dehydrating, Salem — $60,082 award for a 507-kilowatt solar array that will replace 104 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $16,114 per year.

• Alpine Solar, Enterprise — $49,896 award for a 125-kilowatt solar array that will replace 66 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $11,405 per year.

• Taylor Farm, Silverton — $20,000 award for a 78-kilowatt solar array that will replace 97 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $10,788 per year.

• Myrtle Creek Farm, Myrtle Creek — $10,937 award for a 7-kilowatt solar array that will replace 97 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $6,576 per year.

• Persephone Farm, Lebanon — $9,342 award for a 7-kilowatt solar array that will replace 91 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $1,059 per year.

• Groundswell Farm, Langolis — $9,155 award for a 10-kilowatt solar array that will replace 99 percent of current energy use and lower utility bill by $1,147 per year.

The next application deadline is April 1, 2019. For more information, contact Holman at 503-414-3369 or email john.holman@or.usda.gov.



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