USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is seeking applications

The USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Currently, the USDA is seeking applications for Fiscal Year 2020

The purpose of the program is to create energy independence through increasing access to capital for renewable energy projects and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficient initiatives. Funds may be used to buy, install, and install renewable energy systems, including solar, biomass, hydrogen, wind, geothermal, and more. Other possible uses include energy efficiency improvements for HVAC systems, insulation, lighting, doors and windows, cooling units, and more. Applications for grants and/or loans have varying deadlines: 

  • Grants and/or Loans of $20,000 or Less: Applications due October 31, 2019 or March 31, 2020
  • Unrestricted Grants and/or Loans: Applications due March 31, 2020
  • Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants: Applications due January 31, 2020
  • Guaranteed Loans: Applications are accepted on a continuous cycle

The agency encourages all applicants to consider projects that offer measurable results in rural communities, helping them build robust, sustainable economics through effective and strategic investments in partnerships, infrastructure and innovation. According to the USDA, these strategies may include:

  • Achieving e-Connectivity for Rural America
  • Developing the Rural Economy
  • Harnessing Technological Innovation
  • Supporting a Rural Workforce
  • Improving Quality of Life 

Follow this link to learn more about REAP or apply for financial assistance. Click here to find the REAP point of contact for your region in Tennessee. 

More Tennessee cities are adopting LED lights, advanced energy technologies

An advanced energy trend is catching on in the Volunteer State as more cities make the switch to LED lights.

Knoxville’s City Council recently approved a contract to retrofit Knoxville’s nearly 30,000 streetlights with LEDs, setting the City on a path to significantly reduce carbon emissions, according to a release.

Council approved a more than $9 million contract with Siemens. The company expects to begin installation of the new lights across the city in late 2017 or early 2018. All work is expected to be complete by June 30, 2019.

By retrofitting Knoxville’s streetlights to LED technology, the City will reduce energy use, and take a major step toward exceeding its goal of reducing emissions by 20 percent by 2020.

“Infrastructure improvements like this are excellent ways for cities across the country to improve quality of life for their citizens, save a significant amount in energy costs and meet their sustainability goals,” said Marcus Welz, CEO of Siemens Intelligent Traffic Systems.

City officials in Paris, Tennessee announced in February an energy efficiency project there will be launched. Leaders say they will be replacing more than 2,500 lights across the city to LEDs highlighting the project’s cost efficiency.

“It’s just an opportunity to do something progressive in our community and switch everything over to LED,” said City Manager Kim Foster.

Foster said they hope to start the process of replacing the lights in May, and this will be a continuing project over the next six to eight months.

Putnam County, Tennessee received a Clean Tennessee Energy Grant, and the funds were used towards upgrading the county’s government buildings with more energy-efficient LEDs.

The LEDs will be installed in the 911 center, the community center, the Putnam County Justice Center and agriculture buildings among others.

The light bulbs began getting replaced in June 2016 and the county has until the end of this month to complete the project.

ORNL featured in CleanTechnica for new “science fridge”

TAEBC member Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) was featured in CleanTechnica this week for one of its latest developments: a new energy-efficient refrigerator, thanks to a partnership between ORNL and global appliance innovator Whirlpool Corporation.

The goal of the project is to design an energy-efficient refrigerator that uses less than 1 kilowatt-hour daily. Today’s models range around 1.5 kilowatt-hours, so getting that down below 1 kilowatt-hour is a huge improvement.

According to the article, ORNL reps and Whirlpool already have an idea of how to get the product out of the lab and into your kitchen.

Read the full story here.