Four Vermont projects will receive grants or loans from the USDA to help reduce energy consumption. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the department is making available $13.04 million in loans and grants for 233 renewable energy projects in 38 states under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under President Obama s leadership, USDA is working to increase the availability of renewable energy, which not only will reduce our dependence on foreign oil, but also strengthen our economy nationwide, Vilsack said. The funding announced today will help expand America s renewable energy industry, which is a key part of the nation s long-term strategy for continued economic prosperity and energy independence.The loan guarantees and grants can be used for renewable energy systems, energy efficiency improvements, feasibility studies and energy audits. These funds are not part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. For more information on the REAP program, which is authorized under the 2008 Farm Bill, please visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/rbs/farmbill/index.html(link is external). This is the second round of selections of the nationally competitive applications submitted for funding this fiscal year, offered Rhonda Shippee, Acting State Director for USDA Rural Development VT/NH. We expect additional announcements over the next few weeks as we come to our fiscal year close onSeptember 30. Applications for fiscal year 2010 REAP funding can be submitted after October 1, 2009.The projects selected vary from applicant to applicant. REAP funds can be used to fund projects like those selected in this round and described as follows:In Alexandria, NH, Lanciano Wind Energy, LLC will use their $50,000 grant to test the feasibility of a large wind power project in the towns of Danbury and Alexandria, NH. Should the project be determined feasible, NH energy consumers will have the likely option of at least 10-20 megawatts as an alternative energy source. said Luke Lanciano. Such a project will support the State of New Hampshire s resolution which seeks to have 25% renewable energy by 2025 and a renewable portfolio standard that obligates public utilities to work towards 20% renewable power in the electricity pool.Gale C. Howland Revocable Trust, owners of Roberts Laundromat and Carwash in Belmont, NH, will use their $5,985 energy efficiency improvements grant to install an energy efficient hot water system for their operation. They expect to realize a cost savings of over $3,600 annually.Vermont maple producers in Orange, Chittenden, and Franklin counties will use their REAP grants to install reverse osmosis equipment for their maple production operations. These businesses combined reduced energy consumption of 66 cords of wood and over 350 gallons of oil will result in an estimated $17,600 savings. The recipients are:RecipientTownAmountWayne FifieldThetford Center, VT$4,710Rodney and Glenda ParadeeSwanton, VT$3,316David Steinhour and Norman Fecteau & Steinhour SugaringRichford, VT$7,928Joseph JordanEssex Junction, VT$3,459Funding of each recipient is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement.USDA Rural Development s mission is to increase economic opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural residents. Rural Development fosters growth in homeownership, finances business development and supports the creation of critical community and technology infrastructure. Further information on rural programs is available at a local USDA Rural Development office or by visiting www.rurdev.usda.gov/vt(link is external) or calling (802)828-6034.