Rural Business and Cooperative Programs Director Dana Kleinsasser visited Black Hills Laundry and Dry Cleaning, LLC and Integrity Meats, LLC in Belle Fourche, South Dakota to see firsthand the energy efficiency improvements made possible by funding from the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

According to a USDA news release, Black Hills Laundry & Dry Cleaning, LLC received $1,913 and Integrity Meats, LLC received $13,783 in REAP grants.

“This REAP funding will assist with energy costs and those savings can be reinvested into the businesses to further their success,” said USDA Rural Development Acting State Director Bruce Jones.

Energy efficiency improvements made at Black Hills Laundry & Dry Cleaners, LLC included upgrading lighting to reduce energy consumption and costs at four laundromats and dry cleaners, saving 26,360 kWh of energy, equivalent to powering two households for a year; and Integrity Meats, LLC upgraded equipment to reduce energy consumption and costs for this small, rural meat processing plant, saving 52,582 kWh of energy, equivalent to powering four households for a year.

“The new LED lighting will provide better and more efficient light in our laundromats, thus making it safer at night and easier on the eyes at all times, while using less energy,” said Randy Sowers, Project Manager of Black Hills Laundry & Dry Cleaning, LLC.

“We really appreciate the opportunity to participate in this program,” said Alana Strickland, Co-owner of Integrity Meats, LLC. “We look forward to seeing the energy savings through this venture.”

Sowers and Strickland both worked individually with Hetti Cekalla, USDA Rural Development Specialist, in South Dakota to finalize the application. The REAP grant can fund up to 25 percent of the overall energy efficient improvement or renewable energy system costs.

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In federal fiscal year 2015, USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program delivered funds to 24 South Dakota projects for $1,118,998 for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Rural small businesses, and farmers and ranchers are eligible to apply for REAP. Projects the grant can fund are either for renewable energy systems like solar, hydro and wind power, or for those that increase energy efficiency-such as variable speed drives for well pumps or new energy efficient lighting, heating or air conditioning systems.

"A guaranteed loan through REAP is also available for energy efficiency or renewable energy projects," said Jones. "Rural businesses that are considering an upgrade to HVAC systems for example, may be able to save 25% by pursuing a REAP grant/loan combination."

If you want to learn more, contact Rural Energy Coordinator Jolene Pravecek at the USDA Rural Development Office in Yankton at (605) 655-2662, Ext. 4 or by email at jolene.pravecek@sd.usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development has eight offices in the state that assist rural communities. Office locations include a state office in Huron, along with area offices in Aberdeen, Mitchell, Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Watertown, and Yankton.

These investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have strengthened America’s small towns and cities and helped improve the nation’s economy. It speaks to the ingenuity and will of America’s small businesses to build businesses, hire employees, generate and pay taxes to support their communities and programs such as the USDA Rural Development that help America make it through difficult economic times and to see future prosperity.

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