While Congress has been unable to agree on how best to get America back to work and advance energy security, the USDA Rural Development program is proceeding to implement a tried and proven method: the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

On December 14, the USDA announced its final loans and grants under the REAP program for 2011. All total this year, REAP has provided “$23.2 million for energy efficiency projects, $20.9 million for biodigesters, $20.3 million for solar energy projects, $8.2 million for hydroelectric systems, $7 million for biomass energy projects, $4.28 million for flexible fuel pump projects, $3.9 million for wind energy projects, $1.4 million for geothermal installations,” according to the announcement. Combined, these projects are expected to reduce energy demand by approximately two million megawatt hours and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two million tons.

For more about REAP, see EESI’s previous post “Biogas Projects in Eight States Get a Boost from Rural Energy for America Program” .

In November, the USDA announced funding for a number of biomass projects under REAP. Doug O'Brien, Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary for Rural Development, observed "The Obama Administration is assisting cooperatives, small businesses, farmers and ranchers, as they work to reduce their energy costs. When energy costs are reduced, American rural businesses become more competitive, allowing them to expand and create jobs."