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  • Maine makes $2,625,735 from Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s 31st auction


    Proceeds to date for the state are over $77 million

    By Ramona du Houx

    Maine brought in $2,625,735 from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), 31st auction of carbon dioxide (CO2) allowances. RGGI is the nation’s first market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution.

    The program, initiated in Maine by Governor John Baldacci, has brought in $77,301,179.35 to the state for weatherization and alternative energy projects, for businesses and homes.

    “RGGI is working. It is helping Mainers reduce our energy bills and reduce emissions. It is a win-win and a model for the entire nation," said Former State Representative Seth Berry, who sat on Maine’s legislative committee that approved the final RGGI rules.

    14,838,732 CO2 allowances were sold at the auction at a clearing price of $5.25. Bids for the CO2 allowances ranged from $2.10 to $10.46 per allowance.

    Cumulative proceeds from all RGGI CO2 allowance auctions, for all nine states participating, exceed $2.4 billion dollars. The March 9th auction was the first auction of 2016, and generated $77.9 million for reinvestment in strategic programs, including energy efficiency, renewable energy, direct bill assistance, and GHG abatement programs.

    “With the first auction of 2016, the RGGI states build on a seven-year track record of successfully working together to reduce harmful carbon pollution from the power sector,” said Katie Dykes, Deputy Commissioner at  the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, and Chair of the RGGI, Inc. Board of Directors. “Our 2016 Program Review is moving ahead, and with input from stakeholders and experts we look forward to continuing to improve our trailblazing program.”

  • $200 Million loan funds available from USDA for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects

    Exeter Agri-Energy utilized a USDA Rural Development REAP Guaranteed Loan along with $500,000 in REAP Grant funds to install an anaerobic digester at Stonyvale Farm, Maine.

    By Ramona du Houx

     USDA Rural Development has approximately $200 million available through the REAP guaranteed loan program for fiscal year 2016 to finance renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Maine’s rural communities.  The agency is now accepting applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers to compete for $200 million in guaranteed loan funds.

      "This funding opportunity represents substantial potential for rural Maine businesses and agricultural producers to make long-term investments in renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements through a local lender using USDA Rural Development’s REAP guaranteed loan program. This collaboration can help our businesses significantly reduce operating costs, decrease Maine’s independence on foreign oil, and ultimately demonstrate their positive environmental values to their customers and community," said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel.

    Loan purposes include financing renewable energy systems such as biomass fueled anaerobic digesters and biodiesel production, solar, wind, geothermal, etc., and making energy efficiency improvements such as efficient lighting conversions, motor upgrades, building envelope improvements, HVAC upgrades and more.

    Exeter Agri-Energy utilized a USDA Rural Development REAP Guaranteed Loan along with $500,000 in REAP Grant funds to install an anaerobic digester at Stonyvale Farm, a third generation Maine dairy farm. The energy offset by the system through savings on electricity, heat, and cattle bedding was estimated to be $250,000 annually.

    Stonyvale Farm collects manure from 1,000 milking cows, and processors deliver organic waste to augment and optimize a "special" recipe that serves as the fuel. The careful introduction of organic waste into the digesters, in just the right amount and at just the right time, is part of the unique “edge” that EAE has developed at Stonyvale Farm.

     The system heats the manure/organic mixture to just over 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and agitates it intermittently over a 15-25 day retention period. At this point the concoction produces an energy-packed supply of biogas, a potent combination of methane and carbon dioxide. A 1,500 horsepower engine burns the biogas, powering a generator that produces enough heat every day to replace 700 gallons of heating oil on average, and 22,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. On an annual basis, that’s enough energy to heat 300 New England homes and enough to power as many as 800 households.

     Funds are being made available through Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Agricultural producers and rural small businesses benefit from available credit, favorable rates and terms, and energy and cost savings.

    Guaranteed loans are available for up to 75 percent of the total eligible project cost, and loan amounts can range from $5,000 to $25 million. The REAP loan guarantee requires that 25 percent of project costs come from other funding sources such as business equity or other borrowed funds, which could include a USDA Rural Development Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan. REAP loan guarantees range from 85 percent for loans of $600,000 and less to 60 percent for loans of more than $10 million. 

    For more information on how to apply, interested rural Maine businesses, agricultural producers, and lenders may contact Brian Wilson at 990-9168 or brian.wilson@me.usda.gov or visit http://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency/me.

     

  • Federal funds for energy projects to go to 13 businesses in Maine

    From Bar Harbor Community Farm LLC, Bar Harbor to Soloney Acres LLC of Solon, and 11 other businesses are receiving a total of nearly $120,000 in federal funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Development announced in early August that the 13 Maine businesses were among 264 recipients across the country to receive a total of nearly $63 million in loans and grant as part of its Rural Energy for America Program.

    "Our Maine businesses are innovative and value preserving Maine's pristine natural resources," said USDA Rural Development State Director Virginia Manuel. "The 13 businesses being assisted through the Rural Energy for America Program will recognize substantial energy and cost-saving benefits that can help them to reduce overall operating costs and create jobs in Maine's vibrant communities."

    The 13 Maine businesses that are receiving grants or loans are:

    Bar Harbor Community Farm LLC, Bar Harbor

    The farm is receiving $6,868 to purchase and install a new roof-mounted, 8.42-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on a newly construction seedling greenhouse.

    Buck Farms, Mapleton

    The farm is receiving $5,001 to help with the installation of a biomass boiler that uses wood pellets to heat a malting facility that was previously used as an unheated potato storage facility.

    County Energy Solutions, Fort Fairfield

    The business is receiving $6,792 to help it install a ground-mounted, dual-axis solar tracking photovoltaic system at its facility.

    F.W. Thurston Co., Bernard

    The business is receiving $11,738 to install a new roof-mounted, 12.93-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that is expected to replace 18% of its energy demands.

    Flewelling Frederic, Crouseville

    The business is receiving $4,499 to install variable-frequency drives on its potato storage ventilation fans, which will help it save 22,161 kilowatt hours annually.

    JG SL Partners LLC, Freeport

    The business is receiving $5,590 to help with the purchase and installation of a new roof-mounted, 6.89-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that will replace 38% of its energy demands.

    North Country Rivers Inc., Bingham

    The business is receiving $7,772 to install a high-efficiency, ductless heat pump that will provide supplemental heating and cooling. It's expected to save it more than 1,819 kilowatt hours a year.

    Paris Auto Barn LLC, South Paris

    The business is receiving $12,397 to purchase and install a new roof-mounted, 13.5-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at its facility.

    Solonely Acres LLC, Solon

    The business is receiving $19,980 to purchase and install a new five-ton geothermal heat pump system and a 16.83-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at its new commercial storage building.

    Thompson Cottages Inc., New Harbor

    The business is receiving $3,600 to purchase and install a new 4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system on two seasonal cottages.

    TMDE Calibration Labs Inc., Richmond

    The business is receiving $18,750 to purchase and install a new roof-mounted, 25-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at its facility.

    Keena Tracy (doing business as Little Ridge Farm), Lisbon Falls

    Tracy is receiving $4,554 to purchase and install a new roof-mounted, 6.12-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system.

    Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections, Freeport

    The business is receiving $12,159 to purchase and install a new roof-mounted, 15.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system that is expected to replace more than 13 percent of its energy demands.