A federal program has awarded nearly two dozen small, rural businesses in Montana thousands of dollars for renewable energy projects.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced on Aug. 20 it’s granting around $400,000 to Montana businesses through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Among recipients were several dental clinics, a hot tub business and a hops grower.
Crooked Yard Hops in Gallatin County won federal money for roughly a quarter of the $30,000 it’ll cost to install a solar array for a crop in Manhattan. That array will power an automatic pump and water filtration system to water four acres of hops.
Owner Jake TeSelle says the project was originally over budget.
“Getting a REAP grant was a make or break thing for us. Really helped make it feasible," TeSelle said.
The Rural Energy for America Program was established in the 2002 Farm Bill to support sustainable and renewable energy development. Businesses must provide part of the project cost if receiving a grant, loan or a combination of the two.
The most sizable grant in Montana was about $61,000 to help Powder River County’s Broadus Foods update its refrigeration system.
Other businesses won federal dollars to install solar panels, including Spencer Jo hot tubs and River Rock Dental Group, both in Gallatin County.