NORTH DAKOTA (KXNETName) — Earth Day means it’s a good time to look for ways to reduce energy use…and costs.
In honor of the season, the USDA is investing nearly $35 million in the North Dakota campaign.
These investments are made under the REAP – short for Rural Energy for America Program.
The grants aim to help more people access clean energy while reducing their carbon footprint.
“The benefit of having partnerships with grants is that it makes investments more affordable in the long run,” explained Erin Oban, North Dakota State Director for Rural Development at the USDA.
On Friday, one grant recipient, carpenter Jamie Zins, met with USDA officials.
The $10,000 grant Zins received grants to increase energy production and reduce costs by installing solar panels around the roof of his home and woodworking business (Jamie Zins Woodworking).
Created with help from local solar company Lightspring, the new solar panel provides enough electricity to power two average-sized homes.
“The grant is intended to help subsidize the cost of the panels,” Zins explained, “and the initial investment I made. I’m looking for a gain of about 8-10 years, and I hope it all works out and is a good business decision, and also a good renewable energy project to help subsidize the electricity I use.
Other grants have been awarded to small businesses in Flasher and Gwinner, as well as two co-ops that will use the funds to build and improve miles of power lines.
The funds have also been allocated to four towns (Richardton, Ellendale, Leeds and Napoleon) and will be used to help with disaster relief for sewage systems and infrastructure improvements.
The USDA considers this program one of the many things they do to help the community.
“I think there are so many programs available at USDA Rural Development that can help advance the goals of businesses, individuals, homeowners, and small communities,” Oban said, “and that’s really the whole mission.”
It will take some time for the energy alternatives to be fully developed and implemented, but Zins thinks they are worth it.
Hopefully, those who receive the grants will eventually be able to reap what they have sown.