Tom Vilsack, USDA secretary of agriculture, has announced that USDA is funding anaerobic digester projects in seven states to encourage renewable energy production and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and farm-based pollution. Of the 16 projects announced nationwide, Ohio is receiving funding for five – more than any other state in the union. The announcement was made on the secretary's behalf by Dallas Tonsager, under secretary for rural development during a trip to Wisconsin last week.
"Through the efforts of the Obama Administration, the Rural Energy for America Program has helped rural small businesses, farmers and ranchers across the nation," Vilsack says. "This program creates jobs, increases energy efficiency and reduces carbon emissions. It also provides producers with new opportunities to create revenue and compete globally."
Funding for the biodigesters is provided through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program. Since its creation in the 2002 Farm Bill through Fiscal Year 2010, REAP has created or saved an estimated 13.4 billion kilowatts of electricity, reduced almost 14.5 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, assisted almost 9,600 businesses, farmers and ranchers, and created or saved an estimated 15,000 jobs.
One of the biodigesters announced today will be located at the waste water treatment plant in Wooster. It is expected to produce 2 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy each year, and is funded in part with a $500,000 grant and $750,000 loan combination, enough to power more than 200 homes a year.
"This round of REAP funding places Ohio in the forefront of the anaerobic digester industry nationwide," says Tony Logan Ohio Rural Development state director. "These advanced biodigesters not only create jobs for Ohioans, they turn our existing waste streams – municipal waste, foods, oils and grease and livestock manure – into valuable biomass inputs. They are solid investments for our economy and our environment."
The announcement came in concert with an agreement signed by Secretary Vilsack in December, 2009. During climate change talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, the Secretary signed a historic agreement to help U.S. dairy producers cut greenhouse gas emissions. The agreement between USDA and the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy calls for the parties to work to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from dairy farms by 25 percent by 2020. Secretary Vilsack said today the agency is on track to fund an average of one biodigester a week for the coming year.
In Fiscal Year 2011, USDA, through the REAP program, provided over $20 million in assistance for biodigesters, and leveraged $110 million in other funds. Through its Value-Added Producer Grant program, USDA provides planning grants of up to $100,000 and working capital grants of up to $300,000 to be used for establishment of a biodigester. Additionally, the Natural Resources Conservation Service offers financial and technical assistance through the Environmental Quality Incentives program.
REAP anaerobic digester funds announced today included grants and loans to the following:
AgPower Jerome, LLC Lincoln Co., Idaho $500,000 grant
New Energy Two, LLC Middleton, Idaho $500,000 grant
New Energy Three LLC Middleton, Idaho $500,000 grant
Sioux Pharm Inc. Sioux Center, Iowa $263,250 loan, $263,250 grant
Mill Creek Digester, LLC West Unity, Ohio $600,000 loan, $499,924 grant
Belmont County Bioenergy, LLC St. Clairsville, Ohio $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant
Lime Lakes Energy, LLC Barberton, Ohio $1.5 million loan, $500,000 grant
Wooster Renewable Energy, LLC, Wooster, Ohio $750,000 loan, $500,000 grant
Ringler Energy, LLC Cardington, Ohio $3,238,750 loan, $500,000 grant
Farm Power Misty Meadow, LLC Tillamook, Ore. $1 million loan, $500,000 grant
Farm Power Tillamook, LLC Tillamook, Ore. $2.65 million loan, $100,000 grant
Hard Earned Acres, Inc. Shippensburg, Penn. $331,709 grant
Reinford-Frymoyer Farm, LLC Mifflintown, Penn. $337,224 grant
Arlen Benner Mount Joy, Penn. $500,000 grant
Riverview Farm Franklin, VT $429,703 loan, $214,851 grant
Heller Farms (Cow Poo, LLC) Alma Center, Wis. $1,321,187 loan, $500,000 grantFunding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project's cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables, $250,000 for efficiency.