USDA Rural Development Under Secretary Dallas Tonsager met with electric utility officials and business leaders from across the country yesterday to promote ways USDA is working with them to create jobs and strengthen rural economies.
"USDA Rural Development and the Obama Administration are reaching out to you, the local rural business owner and community member," Tonsager told attendees of the National G&T Managers' Association Fall meeting. "We want to get your input on important issues affecting your communities and provide resources to assist with those issues."
The meeting served as an opportunity to educate participants about USDA programs and other federal resources that can help rebuild and revitalize rural communities throughout the country. The meeting is part of a series of roundtables that are being held across the country this summer and fall with senior Obama Administration officials on behalf of the White House Rural Council.
Participants at the National Generation & Transmission Managers' Association meeting discussed the future of rural energy during the two-day meeting. Tonsager underscored the ways Rural Development programs, such as the Rural Energy for America Program, are helping rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy consumption, spur economic development, create jobs and become more profitable.
Last week, Tonsager announced REAP grants for 23 Texas businesses. Fourteen of these projects will improve energy efficiency in poultry houses. The funding is expected to save the recipients a total of $191,653 per year by retro-fitting existing structures or building new boiler production houses to replace inefficient ones.
Four REAP recipients in Texas received funding to install photovoltaic solar thermal systems to offset propane energy used to heat poultry houses. These investments are expected to lower energy costs by $48,340 annually. REAP is one of many USDA Rural Development programs that help rural businesses create jobs.