February 22, 2023
For 20 years, the Rural Energy for America Program has brought energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities to farms, ranches, and rural small businesses across the country.
A new report released today, available at www.elpc.org/REAPSuccessStories, highlights seven of them. The report also includes policy recommendations for the upcoming Farm Bill that would increase the reach and impact of this popular program.
“REAP creates a lot of winners,” said sixth-generation farmer Will Harris.
REAP has been around for 20 years as part of the Farm Bill’s Energy Title. In that time, it has sparked investment in more than 22,000 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Harris used REAP to install a solar array in 2010 and energy efficient freezer doors in 2019 at his family’s White Oak Pastures Farm outside of Bluffton, Georgia. The farm has increased from three to 180 employees, paying over $100,000 weekly into the struggling Clay County economy.
Gordon and Jeff Smiley raise corn, soybeans and barley and contract finishing hogs on 1,100 acres of farmland in southeast Indiana. After a recent fire, the brothers decided to build back a more energy-efficient farm that can help cut production costs.
They used REAP to help cover the cost of 46 new variable frequency drives. The amount of energy these drives save the farm each year could power six homes.
“We knew the energy bills weren’t going to get any cheaper,” said Gordon Smiley. “So, we thought, let’s be proactive.”
REAP was included in last year’s Inflation Reduction Act with nearly $2 billion over the next 10 years, allowing more people to cut costs while helping fight climate change. But the upcoming Farm Bill includes opportunities to improve this already booming program.
“The 2023 Farm Bill should strengthen REAP to help decarbonize energy sources and electrify energy usage. Reducing climate risks and increasing climate resilience increases our national security, especially among food producers,” report co-author ELPC Senior Policy Advocate Andy Olsen testified last year before the U.S. House Of Representatives. “Climate risks are grave, but we can confront this clear and present danger.”
Olsen will present the report policy recommendations this week at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2023 Agricultural Outlook Forum.
The farms, ranches and rural small businesses included in the report are: