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Farmers learn energy efficient tips

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wamc/local-wamc-960057.mp3

Stone Ridge, NY – Farmers from across the Hudson Valley received a briefing Monday on the ways they can make their operations more energy efficient. As WAMC's Greg Fry reports, the underlying themes of the day were more production and more savings...

Meredith Nierenberg is a Coordinator for Mid-Hudson Energy Smart Communities, a project of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. She says there's interest from the agriculture community in energy efficiency.

Nierenberg mapped out ways for farmers to lower their energy bills, through a conference organized with state and federal agriculture and energy officials. The conference at Ulster County Community College was also organized through the office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey. The long-time representative was asked about the need to provide types of energy considered to be more safe and secure. He brought up the growth of solar in the region.

The interest of farmers in solar projects was confirmed by Scott Collins. He serves as the Energy Coordinator for the U-S-D-A Rural Development arm. He spoke to farmers about a guaranteed loan program, known as Rural Energy for America, or REAP.

While mapping out many of the details of the REAP loan program, and while citing examples of successful programs, Collins also spoke of a lengthy application process to receive funding, and how that has derailed a number of projects. He also spoke of the need to have many of the details of the project finalized before applying for money.

Collins says the program is funded with about 70 million dollars, with additional discretionary funds added by Congress. However, those funds have not been added this year, due to Congress's inability to agree on a federal budget. Collins points out that the funding for the popular program runs out quickly.

Those in attendance received a number of tips on how to clear hurdles to get energy projects funded, and how to work with both federal and state resources. Nierenberg says the focus is primarily on savings and efficiency, but says the upgrades often have other benefits, including, in some cases, bringing facilities up to code. REAP Loan Guarantee