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Energy initiative aims to help farms, businesses reduce costs with renewable energy, efficiency

A new program is intended to help farmers and rural small businesses reduce costs with energy efficiency and use renewable energy.

Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota launched recently with support from USDA Rural Development.

“We’re seeing increased demand for information about renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements, and are excited to offer free project assistance to Minnesotans,” Fritz Ebinger, Rural Energy Development Program manager with the Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) and University of Minnesota Extension, said in a press release.

For more than 10 years, CERTs has connected Minnesotans with the resources to plan and implement energy efficiency and renewable energy systems. Through this new program, CERTs will help Minnesota farmers and rural small businesses explore projects that could work for them, identify potential funding and financing options, and get one-on-one assistance on their project.

CERTs will help farms and businesses apply for USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which offers grants for 25 percent of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

REAP from USDA Rural Development is an opportunity for Minnesota farmers and rural businesses to save energy with efficiency work and add renewable energy systems. Applications for renewable energy or energy efficiency grants are due June 30, 2015. Projects requesting grants of $20,000 ($80,000 total project cost) can fill out a shorter application and can also turn in applications for an Oct. 31, 2015, deadline. After that the next deadline for all projects is April 30, 2016.

CERTs will also help farms and rural small businesses explore the possibility of Property Assessed Clean Energy financing.

Interested farmers and small businesses can learn more and get project assistance by visiting the Renewable Energy for Greater Minnesota website at http://mncerts.org/GreatRenewables or by calling Fritz Ebinger at 612-626-1028.