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USDA to fund farmer solar arrays

Straight Up Solar

The U.S. Agriculture Department is giving out more than $1.5 million in rural energy grants to projects in Illinois.

The money will help more than 60 Illinois farmers and businesses install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. Those are among 844 energy infrastructure grants nationwide totaling $285 million in 46 states.

“People in rural America are on the front lines of climate change, and our communities deserve investments that will strengthen our country’s resilience,” U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack said. “President Biden has created a roadmap for how we can tackle the climate crisis and expand access to renewable energy infrastructure, all while creating good-paying jobs and saving people money on their energy costs."

Among the awards is money for a series of solar arrays:

  • U.S. Conveyer Technologies in Mackinaw, $19,999
  • Bachman Custom Feeders hog farm in Delavan, $23,281
  • Upholstery business - Fehr Cab Interiors in Fairbury, $26,500
  • Farmer Bradley Crane in Forrest, $12,300
  • Swine finishing business Strawn Pork LLC in Strawn, $20,000
  • Livestock producer PVF Angus in Gridley, $15,950
  • Grain and livestock producer PBZ Incorporated in Chatsworth, $20,000
  • Chemical business BCS - Soil Fertility and Pest Management in Arrowsmith, $20,000
  • Chemical business BCS - Soil Fertility and Pest Management in Gibson City, $20,000
  • Farmer Wesley Hornback in Monticello, $3,798
  • Kieser Farms in McLean, $20,000
  • Farmer Keith Detwiler in Flanagan, $7,000
  • Farmer Paul Schneider in Flanagan, $20,000
  • Ford Farm Products, Inc in Tonica, $20,000
  • Farmer Matt Gibson in Knoxville, $18,000
  • The Lacon rehab Nursing home in Lacon, $156,000
  • Hawkinson Brothers grain and livestock farms in Galesburg, $20,000
  • Midwest Trailer Manufacturing in Kewanee, $52,718
  • The Havana school system, $196,603

Grants to buy energy efficient grain dryers go to:

  • Gerald Thompson in Colfax $20,000
  • Shane Family Farms LLC in Princeville 20,000

USDA also announced Thursday it will make $300 million available under the Rural Energy for America Program to expand renewable energy and support energy-efficiency projects for people living in rural America, much of it through the Inflation Reduction Act. The deadline to apply for those grants is March 31, 2023.

WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.