Grants bolster renewable energyPublished 9:38am Friday, August 19, 2011
Seven southern Minnesota projects, including one in Frost, have been selected to receive a renewable energy grant for rural small business owners and farmers through the federal government.
U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on Wednesday announced more than 900 grants nationwide, which will be used to make energy efficiency improvements and to install renewable energy systems or flex fuel pumps in rural areas. The funds come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program.
One of the grant recipients is Viking Petroleum in Frost, who received almost $11,000 for a flex fuel pump, along with farmers Steven R. Chodur in Northwood, Iowa, for about $9,200, and Vernon Martinson in Lake Mills, Iowa, for $9,600, who are making energy efficiency improvements.
A ribbon cutting will be held at Viking Petroleum, 315 Elevator Road, at 10 a.m. Friday for the new pump, after which flex fuel vehicle owners will be able to fill up their tanks with E85 at a discounted rate of 85 cents off per gallon until 12:30 p.m.
Viking Petroleum also received a grant from the state and from Frost State Bank to make the pump and holding tank a reality.
USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer said funding from the Renewable Energy for America Program helps reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy and boosts the rural economy.
“Our transition to energy independence is going to happen because of the innovation happening right now in the heartland to move our country towards clean, homegrown technology,” added 1st District Congressman Tim Walz. “Ensuring that farmers, ranchers and small business can continue helping with that transition is vital to reducing our dependence on foreign oil and having the ability to diversify their energy sources just makes good business sense.”
Earlier this year, Walz, working with Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, R-Nebraska, restored funding for the Rural Energy for America Program in the 2012 agriculture appropriations bill.
The program has helped more than 300 Minnesota farmers and small businesses to cut energy costs, according to a news release.