Seven Maine-based businesses will receive $77,500 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to purchase and install renewable energy systems, according to a March 7 report by Mainebiz.

The grants have been made through the Rural Energy for America Program, which provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Under the program, funds may be used for renewable energy systems, such as:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels);
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use;
  • Hydropower below 30 MW;
  • Hydrogen;
  • Small and large wind generation;
  • Small and large solar generation; or
  • Ocean (tidal, current, thermal) generation.

In addition, funding may be used for the purchase, installation, and construction of energy efficiency improvements, such as:

  • High efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC);
  • Insulation;
  • Lighting;
  • Cooling or refrigeration units;
  • Doors and windows;
  • Electric, solar or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots;
  • Switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor; or
  • Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment.

Renewable energy system grants range from $2,500 to $500,000 maximum. Applicants must provide at least 75 percent of the project cost, if applying for a grant only.

Among the businesses that will receive funding, according to Mainebiz, are the following:

FEDCO Seeds, Clinton: $20,000, to purchase and install a 54.6 kWh ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system to benefit its storage facility for seeds, plants, and gardening supplies. The system is projected to produce 70,793 kWh annually, replacing 96 percent of its energy demands.

Solar Center, Arundel: $19,391, to purchase and install a 26.1 kW solar photovoltaic system on three ground-mounted trackers, to benefit a newly constructed greenhouse for organic farmers. The system is projected to produce 44,620 kWh annually, replacing 140 percent of its historical energy demand.

Bradbury Maple, Bridgewater: $3,567, to purchase and install a new reverse osmosis system for this maple syrup farm. The system will concentrate the sap, resulting in decreased fuel oil use for boiling. It is expected to reduce energy demands by 46 percent, saving 11,392 kWh annually.

Trippcrest Farm, Harrison: $8,081, to purchase and install a 14.85 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system to benefit its horse farm. The system is projected to produce 13,961 kWh annually, replacing all of its business energy demands.

Harpswell Freezers, Harpswell: $2,534, to purchase and install a 26.5 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system at one of its commercial rental real estate properties. This system is expected to produce 29,885 kWh annually, replacing 17 percent of its historic business energy demands.

Power Gripps USA, Sorrento: $13,228, to purchase and install an 18.4 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system to benefit the owner’s business. This system is projected to produce 19,544 kWh annually, replacing all of the company’s energy demands.

Waldoboro Environmental Park, Waldoboro: $10,699, to purchase and install a 12.48 kW building-integrated solar photovoltaic system on a proposed new structure in the business park. This system is expected to produce 15,622 kWh annually.

USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Tommy R. Higgins said the companies were recognized through the Rural Energy for America Program.

“The Rural Energy for America Program helps rural Maine small businesses and agricultural producers [use] renewable energy sources and reduce overall energy consumption while substantially reducing their operating costs,” USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Tommy R. Higgins told the local news outlet, adding, “Keeping more hard-earned dollars in the pockets of Maine business owners also helps retain jobs, increase profitability, and aids in a cleaner environment for Maine communities.”

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