Lawmakers review On-Farm Energy Efficiency grant program

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FRANKFORT-A total of $696,288 in grants have been awarded to 81 farm operations so far this year as part of a farm energy savings program, state Agricultural Policy officials told state lawmakers today.

The grants, awarded as part of the state’s On-Farm Energy Efficiency and Production Program, are the first to be funded from $2 million in state agricultural development funds set aside for the program in January. Three more rounds of funding are expected, Bill McCloskey of the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy told members of the Tobacco Settlement Agreement Fund Oversight Committee.

Agricultural development funds are drawn from Kentucky’s share of 14-year-old national tobacco settlement with major tobacco companies.

“I think it is really good that we have so much interest in what would be something that pays long-term dividends,” said committee co-chair Rep. Wilson Stone, D-Scottsville.

Eighty four farm operations had applied for the first round funding, McCloskey said.  Successful applicants met program guidelines which require, among other things, a third party evaluation as part of the application process and allowable reimbursement of up to 25 percent of eligible project costs, not to exceed $10,000.

Of the three applicants who were not approved for first-round funding, McCloskey said some may wish to reapply later. The deadline for the second round of applications is June 30, with other deadlines set for Sept. 30 and Dec. 31.

Poultry farms, dairy farms and herb growers are among the types of farm operations that have been awarded grants through the program, McCloskey said.

Federal stimulus dollars were used to offer Kentucky On-Farm Energy Efficiency and Production Program incentives from 2009 to 2011.  State officials say more than $1.4 million was invested in 190 on-farm energy projects during the three-year period, resulting in more than $2 million in energy savings per year.