USDA Rural Development State Director Tom Fern is in Franklin County on Wednesday to tour a local hotel that recently completed an energy-efficient lighting upgrade that was funded in part through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Frankfort Capital Plaza was awarded a $20,000 grant to replace the hotel’s outdated lighting system with one that is more energy-efficient and will result in a tremendous reduction in utility costs – particularly in common areas such as stairwells, lobby and hallways that must be continuously lighted.
The upgrade will result in annual energy savings of 68 percent and provide a return on investment in less than three years. The total project cost was $98,048 and included an applicant contribution of more than $78,000.
“The Obama Administration and USDA are helping agricultural producers and rural small business owners reduce their energy costs and consumption – and by doing so is helping to create jobs, preserve our natural resources, protect the environment and strengthen the bottom line for businesses.” said Fern.
Owner Marc Stone said, “The Capital Plaza Hotel is engaged in a long-term effort to renovate our facilities to create an even higher quality experience for our guests, reduce energy and operating costs and demonstrate our commitment to environmental stewardship. The REAP program has been of great benefit to help us achieve these goals.”
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced in June that USDA has selected for funding 450 projects nationwide, including eight in Kentucky, that are focused on helping agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy consumption and costs; use renewable energy technologies in their operation; and/or conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill.
REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. These federal funds leverage other funding sources for businesses. In all, USDA announced nearly $7.4 million in energy grants.
Eight Kentucky projects were awarded nearly $140,000 to fund projects that will stabilize their energy costs. The projects include improvements such as the installation of solar panels, geothermal heat conversion and replacement of costly, inefficient grain dryers.
This announcement is an example of investments the Obama Administration is making to help create jobs and grow the rural economy. For a complete listing of Rural Energy for America Program grant recipients announced recently, please click here.
Since taking office, President Obama's Administration has taken historic steps to improve the lives of rural Americans, put people back to work and build thriving economies in rural communities. From proposing the American Jobs Act to establishing the first-ever White House Rural Council, the President is committed to a smarter use of existing Federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities. The Council is working to break down silos, find areas for better collaboration and improved flexibility in government programs, and work closely with local governments, non-profits and private companies to leverage federal support.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages housing, business and community infrastructure programs through a national network of state and local offices. Rural Development has an active portfolio of more than $170 billion in loans and loan guarantees. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.