Rural energy program benefits South Dakota businesses

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded more than $380,000 to assist South Dakota businesses in reducing their energy costs and improving energy efficiency. The funding comes from the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which provides grants and loans to rural businesses, ag producers, and farmers. REAP funds must be used for the installation of renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. 

Thirteen South Dakota businesses received REAP funding awards in 2019. The award winners include rural grocery stores, banks, dairies, manufacturing plants, and farms. The businesses will use funding to update energy intensive equipment, such as coolers, freezers, lighting, HVAC systems, grain dryers, insulation, and installing a new solar energy system. The cost savings accrued with these upgrades are an economic boon for small, rural businesses and create a long-term financial savings within their operations.

REAP funding can also be used for completing energy audits or installing biomass, geothermal, or hydropower systems.In 2019, South Dakota businesses received more than $480,000 in REAP funding. REAP awards are only distributed to businesses in communities with a population base of less than 50,000 people.

Upcoming REAP application deadlines in South Dakota are Jan. 31 and March 31, depending on the type of grant application.For more information on the program, contact the South Dakota USDA office at 605-352-1100.