Augusta Free Press

Area businesses awarded clean energy grant

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Virginia Rural Development office announced $107,500 in grants to help seven rural Virginia businesses and one individual purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

“These grants and others like it that we distribute throughout the year help Virginia’s rural businesses save money while also protecting the environment,” said Basil Gooden, Ph.D., Virginia State Director, USDA Rural Development. “We are proud to help these businesses continue to be innovative and continue to move Virginia’s economy forward.”

USDA Rural Development is awarding the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Recipients may use the funds to purchase, install or construct renewable energy systems including wind and solar. Funds may also be used for the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements.

Knights Gambit Vineyards in Albemarle County received $17,362 to install solar panels, which will offset utility costs for its barn and tasting room. The vineyard rents the barn to an animal therapy program that works with children who are developmentally challenged, and in March the vineyard plans to open its tasting room for the first time.

Another REAP recipient is Associated Grain in Parksley. The company received $19,999 to install a new energy efficient grain drying system that is estimated to reduce energy usage by 36.54 percent.

Funding of each awards announced today is contingent upon the recipient meeting the terms of the grant agreement.

Information about each grant is below.

USDA Rural Development invested $2.1 million last year in REAP grants and loan guarantees in Virginia.

The agency in 2015 invested more than $1 billion in rural Virginia through 40 loan, grant and loan guarantee programs in housing, business, agriculture, energy, health care and community facilities. It has employees stationed in twelve offices across the commonwealth to better serve residents where they live and to improve the economy and quality of life in rural Virginia.