LPEA free information series continues with USDA grant workshop


By Indiana Reed
Special to The SUN

La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) will host a special energy efficiency and renewable energy systems grant education workshop featuring U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development representatives Pattie Snidow, community and economic development director, and Charles W. Thompson, southwest Colorado area director, Thursday, April 18, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. The workshop is in support of the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

The “brown bag lunch” workshop, to be held in the multi-purpose room at LPEA’s Bodo Park headquarters (45 Stewart St., Durango), is free and open to all small businesses or agriculture producers interested in investing in energy efficiency upgrades or renewable systems and seeking additional funding.

“At this juncture, the next funding cycle of the USDA hasn’t been announced, but we want to make sure our local businesses are informed about how to apply for a grant,” said Sue Maxwell, LPEA project specialist. “LPEA was a successful recipient of a $100,000 USDA grant for energy audit review and education in 2011. We encourage local small businesses, and that includes our regional farmers and ranchers, to look into this opportunity, and LPEA wants to help however we can.”

The USDA grants, which can be up to 25 percent of a project’s costs, are designed to encourage implementation of commercially available energy efficiencies or renewable energy products on a commercial building or energy efficiency improvements to manufacturing process or equipment such as coolers, refrigerators, etc.

Eligible applicants under USDA guidelines are those considered small businesses by the Small Business Administration or agriculture producers. Businesses within city limits must be located in populations under 50,000 as of the 2000 census. This grant program is available to private sector applicants only. Non-profit organizations and local governments are not eligible.

“But we do want to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy contractors to come to the workshop as they may also find this training valuable, as they play a key role in the success of the application for a small business or agriculture producer,” added Maxwell.

Reservations for the USDA Grant Information Workshop are required. For further information about the workshop and to RSVP, contact Sue Maxwell at 382-7170 or smaxwell@lpea.coop. To learn about future events, visit www.lpea.coop, or request e-mail alerts via Constant Contact (sign up at www.lpea.coop).