USDA grants support renewable energy projects on local farms

A stock photo of solar panels being installed.  A solar array in Orleans County is one of the rural development projects supported by a new USDA grant.
A stock photo of solar panels being installed. A solar array in Orleans County is one of the rural development projects supported by a new USDA grant.

At least three local farms are receiving more than $100,000 each in grants from the federal government to help bring their operations up to date with renewable energy systems. 

The state director for rural development announced this week that New Yorkers will receive $24 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support 27 renewable energy projects.

Some of the larger Rochester-area projects funded by the USDA Rural Development fund include: 

  • Kludt Brothers Inc. of Kendall, Orleans County; $110,190 grant to upgrade a grain dryer.
  • Brightly Farms LLC of Hamlin; a $111,250 grant for construction and installation of a wind turbine.
  • Panek Farms of Albion, Orleans County; a $185,470 grant to purchase and install a 320-kilowatt solar array. The project will supply power to the farm with enough left over for 36 homes. 

 “Businesses grow and create more jobs when their energy costs are lower,” said USDA’s New York director, Richard Mayfield. “USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural businesses because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”

The program supports energy audits, energy efficiency and installation of renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. USDA rural development efforts are focused on providing jobs in rural areas.

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State seeks renewable energy projects

New York State is seeking proposals for large-scale renewable energy projects that fall in line with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to have 70 percent of the state’s electricity coming from renewable sources by 2030.

This third request for proposals comes with a June 13 deadline, but there’s a web seminar on how to make a qualified proposal that will be available May 2. Awards are scheduled for November of this year.

“New York is continuing to lead by example when it comes to advancing large-scale renewable energy projects that will bring significant economic growth and good-paying jobs to the state,” Cuomo said in a prepared statement.  “This action builds on our strong commitment to renewable energy and will be a critical part of the state’s bold plan to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by climate change.”

This latest solicitation is aimed at providing $1.5 million megawatt hours, or enough to power 200,000 homes, to the state’s power grid.

In 2017 and 2018, New York awarded $2.9 billion in contracts to 46 land-based wind and solar projects, creating $7 billion in direct investment in the clean energy sector. The projects generate a combined 7.1 million megawatt-hours each year, which is enough power for nearly 1 million homes. Investments related to the latest solicitation are projected to create 1,000 short-term and long-term jobs in the energy field.

“This solicitation for large-scale projects continues our efforts to power more homes and create more good paying jobs. New York continues to lead the nation to protect our environment and combat climate change for future generations,” said Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

“To tackle climate change, we must build new clean, pollution-free power projects, like wind and solar,” added Anne Reynolds, executive director of the Alliance for Clean Energy New York. “Today’s new call for renewable energy projects from NYSERDA is excellent news, as it will allow developers to compete for the long-term contracts that get projects financed and built and will create jobs for New Yorkers.”

Information on how to submit a proposal is available on the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency’s website.

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