USDA: Rural Kentuckians to receive more than $26 million for clean energy programs

Kentucky will receive more than $26 million in grants and low-interest loans to lower energy costs, expand access to renewable energy, and combat climate change in rural areas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced recently.

The USDA is investing $285 million across the country through the Rural Energy for America Program, which is designed to help farmers, ranchers, and entrepreneurs make energy efficiency improvements and purchase renewable energy systems like wind and solar.

The USDA selected 18 projects in Kentucky, including more than $1 million in grants and one $25 million low-interest loan. That loan will go to a company doing business as 80 Acres Farms, headquartered in Hamilton, Ohio, and operating a vertical farm in Boone County, Ky. The loan will be used to install energy-efficient equipment for a hydroponic grow facility that’s expected to create 72 jobs, according to the USDA. 80 Acres Farms grows leafy greens, herbs, and microgreens.

The grants Kentucky received range from around $4,000 to as much as $240,000 to help farmers make improvements that will save money on their energy bills. Among them is a farm in Pembroke. Ky. that will receive a nearly $60,000 grant to install an energy-efficient grain dryer, and a meat producer in Smiths Grove that will receive more than $13,000 to install a 10-kilowatt solar system.

“These funds have been used to help create and put together renewable energy systems on the farm and in communities. It’s also been used to produce, install and construct energy efficiency on the farm,” Vilsack said in a press conference Thursday.

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