USDA Awards Grants for Wind and Solar Energy Projects
July 7, 2004
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced in mid-June its award of $11.3 million to six projects that will attempt to alleviate high energy costs in rural areas. The High Energy Cost Grants will fund four projects in Alaska, one in the Navajo Nation in New Mexico, and one on the Hualapai Reservation in Arizona. One grant will go toward a wind turbine in Hooper Bay, Alaska, which has excellent wind resources and an average electricity cost in excess of 45 cents per kilowatt-hour. The Hualapai project will include a solar photovoltaic power system, and the Navajo Nation project will install hybrid solar and wind power systems as well as energy efficiency improvements in at least 50 remote homes that currently pay 75 cents per kilowatt-hour for their electricity, on average. See the announcement on the High Energy Cost Grant Program Web site.
One recipient of last year's High Energy Cost Grant is using it to finance solar power installations in Washington State. The Public Utility District (PUD) of Ferry County will fund either line extensions or solar power installations for remote customers whose cost of electricity exceeds 23 cents per kilowatt-hour. The utility will install solar power systems for these customers, allowing them to repay the cost over 20 years, and will also maintain the systems. See the Ferry County PUD announcement.
The USDA offers a variety of grants and loans that relate to energy use on farms and in rural areas, several of which were recently summarized by Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman in a speech before the USDA Conference on Agriculture as a Producer and Consumer of Energy. See Secretary Veneman's speech.