U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development state director for Minnesota Brad Finstad announced that USDA is investing $14.3 million to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions in rural Minnesota.

“By reducing energy costs, renewable energy helps to create opportunities for improvement elsewhere, like creating jobs,” said Finstad. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA continues to be a strong partner to rural Minnesota in building stronger and healthier communities, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

USDA is investing in 25 rural small businesses and ag producers through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Grants and Guaranteed Loans.

Investments can used for renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. REAP funding can also be used for energy audits and to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems, insulation, lighting and refrigeration.

The investments will help save a total of $4.1 million per year and replace more than 251 million in kWh per year, which is enough electricity to power more than 23,100 homes.

The deadline for the next round of applications is March 31. Interested parties should contact their local Minnesota area office for information about additional funding, application procedures and eligibility details.