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Producers learn how to apply for renewable energy grants

Rocky Mountain Farmers Union’s Cooperative Development Center hosted U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) 9006 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency grant workshops, March 6 and 7, in Atwood, Kan., and Holyoke, Colo., respectively. More than 50 people attended the two workshops.

The 9006 Grant Program can provide up to 25 percent of a project’s costs in grants for renewable energy and efficiency projects for farms and rural businesses.

The program also includes guaranteed loans that can be used in combination with grants to cover an additional 50 percent of the costs of a project. Presenting to the Holyoke attendees was April Dahlager, business & community programs specialist with USDA Rural Development. Dahlager is the Colorado coordinator for energy programs. Presenting to the Atwood workshop was Brandon Prough, area specialist for USDA Rural Development.

At both workshops, Jim Green, senior project leader with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, presented the 10 important steps for small wind development that will be helpful when considering applying for a USDA 9006 grant.

The local rural electric cooperatives—Highline REA in Holyoke and Midwest Energy in Atwood—presented information about conducting energy audits and other assistance to help farmers and businesses apply for grants.

Tony Frank, RMFU renewable energy specialist, provided updates on the Small Wind Feasibility Study being conducted for eight agriculture producers in eastern Colorado. He also provided sample 9006 grant applications from 2006 and described the necessary information to include in an application. The workshops were sponsored by Phillips County Economic Development Corporation, Rawlins County Economic Development Corporation, USDA Rural Development, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and the RMFU Cooperative Development Center.

A third 9006 workshop has been scheduled for Springfield, Colo., in Baca County, March 30. For more information on the USDA 9006 Grant Program, contact Tony Frank at 303-283-3532 or tony.frank@co-ops.org.