June 29 – July 5, 2012Vol. 14, No. 4

Energy Help Is Available for Small Businesses

As energy costs climb ever higher, Maine businesses are looking for ways to reduce consumption or find alternatives to produce their own energy. Most business owners will tell you that energy costs are a major factor in their yearly budgets. When considering energy solutions, conservation should always be the first consideration. Any energy audit that's worth the paper its printed on will stress this point. But once all the equipment is upgraded, and all the light switches are on motion-sensors, maybe it's time to look at energy production (or at least energy capture). The Kennebec Soil & Water Conservation District can help with this.

The Kennebec Conservation District, in participation with Maine Rural Partners has been awarded a Renewable Energy Development Assistance (REDA) Grant from a national grant application process through USDA Rural Development. The grant is focused on renewable/alternative energy development for small, rural businesses throughout Maine. Whether you're interested in learning more about solar water heating, solar photovoltaic, wind energy, geothermal, or biomass, we can provide you with answers through the Farm Energy Partners (FEP) Network.

Grant funds will be used to conduct on-site assessments and promote renewable energy development among Maine's rural businesses, including farms. The cost of energy in Maine trends high and is typically cited as one of the top three hindrances to the business climate in Maine overall. Harvesting Clean Energy will concentrate on a state-wide approach to promote energy efficiency and educate Maine farmers and business owners on their understanding of the options available to them for innovation. The project will focus on solar thermal energy applications.

The grant is underway and we are still taking names of businesses who want to participate in the grant, but the opportunity will come to a close in mid-September. We look forward to working with any business owner anywhere in Maine to make this project a success that many businesses can benefit from for years to come.

What the grant provides:

What the District offers:

  1. A site assessment and analysis of your energy needs
  2. Consultation with other FEP professionals, including leading renewable energy installers and scientists, and
  3. Assistance identifying funding sources

A site assessment will take about an hour of your time and in no way obligates you to follow through with any energy project. To date, we have performed several dozen site assessments and obtained federal grant funding for a Kennebec County organic vegetable producer to assist him with installation of solar panels to generate electricity.

Feel free to contact us (622-7847, ext. 3, or agrindle@kcswcd.org), if you have any questions.

Conservation Too columns are written by staff at by the Kennebec County Soil and Water Conservation District in Augusta. For more information about the district and its projects, call Dale Finseth at 622-7847, X 3 or visit www.kcswd.org.