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Porch & Parish

The Animal Center: Utilizing USDA's REAP Program for Energy Efficiency and Sustainability

Feb 06, 2024 10:57AM ● By Lauren Pope

Maybe you've driven by The Animal Center in Zachary in the past few weeks and wondered about their new solar panels. We have! We spoke with them about the new energy efficiency and HVAC improvements they're making and learned about a program dedicated to empowering communities through energy efficiency and sustainability. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is designed for farmers, small businesses, and entrepreneurs in rural regions, including Zachary. 

REAP's mission is simple yet powerful: to support rural communities in adopting renewable energy systems and implementing energy efficiency improvements. In an era where sustainability is paramount, this program stands as a lifeline for those striving to reduce their carbon footprint while bolstering their bottom line.

For those tending the land or running small enterprises in rural areas, REAP offers a path to progress. Through guaranteed loans and grants, eligible applicants gain access to vital financial assistance, enabling them to invest in renewable energy solutions such as solar panels, wind turbines, and biomass facilities. These investments not only reduce reliance on traditional energy sources but also pave the way for long-term cost savings and environmental stewardship.

But REAP doesn't stop there. Recognizing the importance of energy efficiency in driving sustainable growth, the program also provides support for a wide range of improvements, from upgrading lighting systems to enhancing insulation. By maximizing energy efficiency, rural communities can not only save money on utility bills but also contribute to a cleaner, greener future for generations to come.

Navigating the REAP application process is made simple with comprehensive resources and guidance. Eligibility criteria are clear, ensuring that those who stand to benefit most from the program can access its benefits. Whether it's a family farm seeking to harness the power of the sun or a small business aiming to reduce its environmental footprint, REAP is there to lend a helping hand. With both grant and loan programs available, which combine to provide up to 75% of the overall cost of renovations and new technology investments, the REAP program allows business owners and agricultural operations to make upgrades that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive.

In addition to the Rural Energy for America Program, The Animal Center was also able to participate in the Business Energy Investment Tax Credit, a separate program that supports businesses that wish to upgrade their energy efficiency. Combined, the credits allowed The Animal Center to contract with The Next Energy Tech and Hughes Mechanical to complete the work. Utilizing local contractors means that the credit's impact is even further spread throughout the community.

Travis Hughes, one of the owners of Zachary-based family business Hughes Mechanical, spends many days traveling South Louisiana performing energy audits. If you're interested in one to see if your business could benefit, call Hughes Mechanical at 225-658-2147.

If you're interested in seeing if your own farm or business is eligible for these guaranteed loans or grants, contact:

Chaston Price, USDA Rural Development 3727 Government Street Alexandria, LA 71302 

Tel: (318) 473-7960 [email protected]