Public power utilities help customers attain nearly 90 USDA energy efficiency grants
Columbus, Neb. – Recently, state-wide media announced that approximately $20 million in federal rural development REAP grants were awarded to more than 225 Nebraska businesses, including 75 agriculture producers.
REAP stands for Rural Energy for America Programs, an energy-centered grant program offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Office. What wasn’t known about the 2013 grant awards was the role Nebraska’s public power utilities play in helping to procure a good percentage of those funds for Nebraskans.
Nebraska Public Power District’s energy efficiency/sustainable department, with the support of NPPD’s partner utilities throughout the state, assist Nebraska customers in obtaining the grants.
“Public power utilities want customers to receive good value from their energy dollar,” said Ron Rose an NPPD energy efficiency consultant from York. “That’s why our energy-related services go beyond supplying electricity alone.”
The recent USDA grant awards are a perfect example of this. In 2013, NPPD’s team of energy efficiency experts helped customers acquire nearly 90 grants for a total of more than $6 million, or about 30 percent of the state’s total award funding. The projects vary from irrigation and grain drying upgrades to commercial building and equipment improvements. Renewable energy projects are also part of the program for customers interested in installing solar, wind, geothermal or other renewable energy equipment.
NPPD’s energy efficiency team performed energy audits on businesses, agriculture operations and buildings to support customers’ grant applications, Rose explained. “If a customer’s grant application is successful, 25 percent of the project’s total cost is awarded them through the grant.”
Other members of NPPD’s team include Gary Folchert and Jim Loutzenhiser of Norfolk, Bryce Landen of Chadron, Kenneth Young of Columbus, Cory Fuehrer and Mike Teetor of York and Steve Walker of North Platte.
“Increasing energy efficiency and promoting economic development in the state are two benefits of NPPD’s overall service to customers behind their outlet,” said Rick Nelsen, NPPD’s economic development manager. “By helping the state’s businesses and ag producers receive more than $6 million in funding, NPPD has taken tangible strides toward fulfilling our corporate vision of enhancing the quality of life in Nebraska.”