Friday, Jan 6 2012 10:15AM
The USDA's Rural Energy for America Program has funded many renewable energy projects for farmers, but funding cuts could limit how many projects the agency can undertake in 2012.
A substantial cut in funding to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is expected to lead to considerably fewer energy projects funded in Oregon this year, Sustainable Business Oregon reports.
Thirty-six renewable energy projects were funded by REAP in 2011. However, that number is expected to dwindle this year due to a budget for the program this year roughly one-third the size of last year's, according to the source.
The national REAP budget in 2011 was $70 million. This year, it was reduced to $22 million.
USDA State Renewable Energy Coordinator Don Hollis told the outlet the agency won't have close to as many projects in 2012 as it did in Oregon last year due to the considerable budget cut.
Many rural farmers in Oregon depend upon grants and loans through REAP to help lower their energy expenses. For instance, some projects help install solar panels and lighting retrofits on farmers' properties that can save them hundreds of dollars in energy costs each year.
According to USDA, REAP and other programs instituted as part of the 2008 Farm Bill's Energy Title don't have guaranteed funding after fiscal year 2012.
For further information, check out this source: Sustainable Business Oregon