This year the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program wants to spend more than $2 million in East Tennessee on its program to help deliver technology and economic opportunity to the rural parts of the country.
"It will be the most that we've ever had as far as funding we've actually got to spend," said Dan Beasley, director of business and cooperative programs for USDA Rural Development in a recent interview with Business Journal reporter Larisa Brass.
Last year the office had only 23 applications for the program, which provides up to 24 percent of project costs in grants and up to 75 percent in loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects to rural small businesses and agriculture-based businesses in either rural or urban settings. For more information on applications, see the USDA's Tennessee state page.
Projects in 14 East Tennessee counties have utilitized the program, including Holden Nursery in Mascot.
The owners used funding from the REAP program, along with TVA's Green Power Providers incentives, to install a solar generating system on their property.
Owner Kim Holden says the system pays for the company's electric bill and can produce far more in the summer.