USDA Awards $8.6 Million to Clean Energy Projects

March 1, 2006

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on February 24th its award of more than $21 million to 15 energy projects, including $8.6 million for four renewable power projects, one energy efficiency project, and one biodiesel production plant. USDA High Energy Cost Grants totaling more than $5.4 million will support a wind power project in Hooper Bay, Alaska; a wind and diesel hybrid system in Nikolski, Alaska; the repair of a 1.5-megawatt hydropower system near Cordova, Alaska; the installation of hybrid solar power systems on Navajo tribal lands near Cameron, Arizona; and energy saving retrofits to homes in Greenville, Alabama. In addition, a Renewable Energy loan guarantee of more than $3.2 million will be awarded to Clinton County Bio Energy LLC of Iowa, which is building a biodiesel plant capable of producing 10 million gallons per year. The plant will consume more than 7 million bushels of soybeans each year and will produce much of its energy supply from the by-products of the biodiesel production process. The plant already received a $500,000 Renewable Energy Grant from the USDA in December. See the USDA press releases on the new awards and the previous award, and see the full list of recipients on the USDA Rural Development Web site.

As part of its energy strategy, the USDA also released a Web-based tool to help farmers and ranchers identify potential nitrogen cost savings associated with nitrogen fertilizer applications. For each major crop and application method, the USDA's Energy Estimator for Nitrogen presents potential alternative practices and estimates their cost savings. According to the USDA, fertilizer accounts for 29 percent of agriculture's energy use. See the USDA press release and the Energy Estimator for Nitrogen.