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The U.S. Department of Agriculture awards energy grants to Wyoming businesses

A bank of solar panels in a small field.
Dan Boyce

In efforts to continue a wave of federally funded infrastructure projects, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded grants to five Wyoming businesses, which aim to help cut energy costs and reduce environmental impact. The grant money comes from the Rural Energy For America Program(REAP) and is funded through the Inflation Reduction Act.

The grants total nearly $145 million and were specifically awarded to businesses in communities of 50,000 or less and to producers that make at least 50 percent of their income through agriculture production. Glenn Pauley, State Director for the USDA in Wyoming, says these kinds of programs are aimed at helping businesses in rural areas improve energy efficiency and lower cost.

“So the program is broken into two areas. One is focused on renewable energy. The other part of the program is focused on energy efficiency.” said Pauley.

The program started in 2018, and has invested over $20 million in Wyoming since its inception. While Wyoming has seen a wave of federal funding hit the state, Pauley said these grants are more flexible.

“What's exciting about the program is it really allows the business or the agriculture producers to make that decision themselves,” said Pauley.

The investments will allow the business to invest in their own preferred forms of renewable energy, which Pauley said can be anything from “solar energy, [to] biomass, geothermal, hydrogen, [and] small or large wind generation.” However, Pauley says solar energy has seen the most popularity in Wyoming. In fact, the five businesses that received the grants plan to use that funding for solar panel installation, as well as efficiency improvements such as energy efficient windows and doors.

The Wyoming businesses that secured REAP funding for 2023 are the Buffalo KOA Journey Campground near Sheridan, WYOIT LLC, an IT service in Cheyenne, Ryan Ranches Inc, a cattle ranch near Saratoga, Lorenz Ranch Inc., a cattle ranch near Cheyenne, and Heartland Kubota LLC, an agricultural dealership in Sheridan.

Jordan Uplinger was born in NJ but has traveled since 2013 for academic study and work in Oklahoma, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. He gained experience in a multitude of areas, including general aviation, video editing, and political science. In 2021, Jordan's travels brought him to find work with the Wyoming Conservation Corps as a member of Americorps. After a season with WCC, Jordan continued his Americorps service with the local non-profit, Feeding Laramie Valley. His deep interest in the national discourse on class, identity, American politics and the state of material conditions globally has led him to his current internship with Wyoming Public Radio and NPR.
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