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Energy projects aim to strengthen California farms
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A nearly $6 million investment announced on March 28 focuses on clean, renewable energy. U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development California State Director Maria Gallegos Herrera made the announcement on March 28 that USDA is investing close to $6 million in nine renewable energy projects throughout California to lower energy costs, generate new income, and support California’s farmers, ranchers, and rural small business.

“With the Inflation Reduction Act, we are able to support more rural business owners and agricultural producers adopt sustainable energy solutions that provide short- and long-term benefits,” said Gallegos Herrera. “These investments reduce energy costs for producers and small business owners, invest in renewable energy that benefits not only our environment but also our economy, while reaffirming the commitment to rural California.”

Investments will cut energy costs for ag producers and business owners that can instead be used to create jobs and new revenue streams for people in their communities.

A few of the projects include:

Crystal Farms Local Solar II LLC will use a $520,000 Rural Development investment to assist the agriculture producer in San Joaquin. The project funds will be used to help offset the costs associated with installing an energy efficient solar photovoltaic system. The system is estimated to produce 2,877,238 kilowatt hours per year, which is enough electricity to power 270.62 homes.

Shinn Vineyard Management, a family operation in Lodi that provides harvesting and custom vineyard farming, is using a nearly $40,000 grant to install solar panels to offset their energy usage.

Aspen Enterprises, a wholesale florist in Watsonville, will use a $278,400 grant to install solar panels that are expected to produce over 235,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

Erickson Farms, an almond producer in Madera, is using a $1 million grant to install solar panels predicted to produce over 1.8 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

Most of the projects are funded by the Biden-Harris Administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, the nation’s largest-ever investment in combating the climate crisis, through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Under this program, USDA provides grants and loans to help ag producers and rural small business owners expand their use of wind, solar and other forms of clean energy and make energy efficiency improvements. These innovations help them increase their income, grow their businesses, address climate change and lower energy costs.

The investments unveiled on March 28 are included in a national USDA announcement totaling $120 million in 541 REAP projects across 44 states.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, Tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit