Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024 |
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Cucumbers are grown at Kawamata Farms in Waimea. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
Amanda Lima sorts tomatoes at Kawamata Farm in Waimea. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
Tomatoes destined for shipment throughout the state grow at Kawamata Farm in Waimea. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
Leilani Aviro cuts ulu for processing at the Ulu Cooperative. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
Leilani Aviro, left, Anissa Lucero and Benjamin Slayback process ulu at the Ulu Cooperative. (Laura Ruminski/West Hawaii Today file photo)
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is investing more than $566,000 to improve local business energy efficiency while benefiting the environment in rural Hawaii and the Western Pacific.
“Businesses grow and create more jobs when their energy costs are lower,” Deputy Under Secretary Bette Brand said. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA is committed to being a strong partner to rural businesses, because we know that when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.”
According to Hawaii/Western Pacific State Director Brenda Iokepa-Moses, these investments will help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses lower energy costs.
“Improving energy efficiency to assist farmers, the agricultural industry and rural businesses is a way to help our environment and our producers,” she said.
Iokepa-Moses added that renewable energy is a win-win for Hawaii and Western Pacific communities and businesses and now it’s more important than ever.
“With the real-time adaptations in dealing with the pandemic, programs like this are no longer just luxuries for the communities, they have become essential,” she said.
Recipients can use REAP funding for energy audits and to install renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar. The funding can also be used to increase energy efficiency by making improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration.
Big Island recipients include Kawamata Farms in Waimea and the Hawaii Ulu Producers Cooperative in Kailua-Kona.
Kawamata Farms will use its RES $20,000 grant to purchase and install a 10.27 kW solar photovoltaic system for its tomato farm in Waimea. The project will generate 15,079 kWh. or 99% of the farm’s energy needs per year.
The Hawaii Ulu Producers Cooperative was awarded two grants totaling more than $97,000.
The co-op will use a $37,732 RES REAP grant to purchase and install a 60-kW photovoltaic system for a commercial food processing operation that will provide 79,701 kWh. The co-op will use a $60,382 EEI REAP grant to finance energy efficiency improvements with the purchase and installation of an energy efficient freezer/refrigeration system that will replace 80,070 kwh/year. In total, the projects are anticipated to save $43,645.
USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. The assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas.
For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.
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