For Immediate Release - January 06, 2010

Patrick-Murray Administration Announces Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Workshops for Agriculture Industry

BOSTON - Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles today announced three workshops designed to inform Bay State farmers and forest landowners about renewable energy and energy efficiency funding opportunities available through state and federal agencies.

"These workshops help farmers take advantage of grants that will help save them business costs while protecting our environment, in keeping with Governor Patrick's goal of expanding green energy solutions across Massachusetts," said Secretary Bowles.

The free workshops, which focus on financial incentives available through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (DAR), and the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust, will be held in January in Amherst, Leominster, and Wareham.

"This is another great example of how strong partnerships between state, non-profit and federal agencies can benefit the Commonwealth's farming community," said DAR Commissioner Scott Soares. "I encourage farmers to attend one of these important workshops where they can learn how to navigate the complex network of funding programs and prepare for the coming year by learning more about the financial incentives and technical assistance associated with energy sustainability."

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Farm Energy Program (MFEP), which is supported by DAR and USDA, the workshops include an overview of technical and financial assistance programs, eligibility requirements, and anticipated application announcements.

One funding opportunity is the USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which supports a diverse range of clean energy technologies and energy efficiency measures. In 2009, REAP awarded 14 Massachusetts rural small businesses and farmers $2.4 million in grants and $1.6 million in loans.

The USDA's Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provided $1.9 million to Massachusetts agricultural producers last year for nine solar photovoltaic, wind, and anaerobic digestion projects, and 31 energy efficiency projects including cranberry auto-start irrigation systems and greenhouse thermal blankets and fans.

Also in 2009, DAR's Agricultural Environmental Enhancement Program (AEEP) provided $275,000 in funding for over 20 energy related projects including refrigeration, biomass boilers, photovoltaic, wind, and auto-start irrigations systems for cranberry bogs. DAR also funded projects related to anaerobic digestion, outdoor wood boilers, and zero-net energy buildings for an additional $125,000.

The workshop schedule is listed below.

Central region - January 6 (Snow Date: Jan 8)

  • 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • Doyle Conservation Center, The Trustees of Reservations
  • 464 Abbott Ave, Leominster

Eastern region - January 13 (Snow Date: Jan 14)

  • 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • UMass Cranberry Station
  • State Bog Rd, East Wareham

Western region - January 19 (Snow Date: Jan 20)

  • 9:30 am - 12:30 pm
  • DAR Office, Conference Room
  • 101 University Drive, Suite C4, Amherst

The DAR's mission is to ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions - Agricultural Development, Animal Health, Crop and Pest Services, and Technical Assistance - the DAR strives to support, regulate, and enhance the Commonwealth's agricultural community, working to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture's role in energy conservation and production.