Yesterday, Congressman Mike Michaud joined several of his colleagues in introducing legislation to renew key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) energy and efficiency programs in the 2012 Farm Bill.
The Rural Energy for America Act would reauthorize several USDA energy initiatives, including three that have had a direct benefit to Maine. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has helped Maine agricultural producers and rural small businesses to make energy improvements and gain access to renewable energy systems; the Forest Biomass for Energy Program helped install wood-to-energy systems at several Maine public facilities; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program has helped over 380 contractors to develop biomass conversion facilities.
"USDA energy programs provide critical support for Mainers' efforts to improve energy efficiency and save money," said Michaud. "This legislation will renew programs that create jobs, save money, and make important investments in new energy technology."
USDA energy programs have provided Maine with over $49 million in federal funding since 2009. The REAP program has supported 29 projects in Maine and provided $1.2 million in grants and approximately $1.7 million in loans. The Forest Biomass for Energy Program has provided $11.4 million to the Maine Forest Service for the installation of wood-to-energy systems at 22 public facilities. In addition, Maine has received about $35 million in federal payments under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program.