Grant Links Solar Power with Horse Power at New Hampshire Farm
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Windswept Farm is among 31 New Hampshire farms and small businesses that have received $1.2 million in United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development grants. The USDA grants spur renewable energy generation and conservation while helping increase profitability. Funds from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) have allowed New Hampshire recipients to install more than two dozen solar arrays, three modern wood heating systems, one energy efficient lighting project and one geothermal project.
One of the projects is a 19.6 kilowatt solar array installed by ReVision Energy at Windswept Farm in Canterbury. The equestrian facility received a $20,000 REAP grant to offset part of the cost. The array is expected to produce 21,612 kilowatt hours annually and will help power an indoor arena with an attached, 14-stall horse barn. The system will offset 25 to 30 percent of the farm’s electric load. The switch to solar power at the farm is equivalent to avoiding carbon dioxide emissions from 21 barrels of oil each year.
“Even though it was a long process that involved a lot of paperwork, it was the right thing to do and the responsible thing to do, and we’re fortunate that we got the grant,” said Windswept Farm owner Corinne Pullen.
“From solar panels to wood pellet boilers, these projects will help farmers and small businesses reduce their energy bills, help our nation reduce its carbon footprint, and help make rural communities more sustainable,” said Vermont and New Hampshire USDA Rural Development State Director Ted Brady. “USDA’s REAP grants incentivize farmers and small businesses to invest their own funding to reduce one of their largest barriers to profitability – energy costs.”
Since 2009, the USDA has awarded $545 million for more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems. When fully operational, these systems are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually, enough to power more than 5.5 million homes for a year. The New Hampshire projects will create or save enough electricity to power the equivalent of 243 homes annually. The next REAP application deadline is in May of 2016.