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Wednesday, February 21, 2024
Feb. 21, 2024

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2 Clark County farms get grants to add solar power

They collectively will receive nearly $150K from USDA

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:

Two rural Clark County businesses are collectively set to receive roughly $150,000 in federal aid to more efficiently power their operations.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Wednesday it awarded more than $3 million to 18 rural businesses across Washington. Statewide, the collection of projects is estimated to generate 10.07 million kilowatt hours, or enough to power 900 homes, according to the agency.

A horse-boarding facility, located at the eastern edge of Ridgefield, will use $51,447 to purchase and install a 36.48-kilowatt solar array on a hay barn, replacing 36,000 kilowatt hours a year, the equivalent of powering three homes.

Ron Kuiper of Salmon Creek, who owns the facility, initially pursued energy-efficiency projects to lower costs. What first began as replacing the property’s light fixtures with LEDs eventually led to wanting to install a solar system, he said, which is estimated to save nearly $3,000 a year.

“I’m excited to see this whole thing come to fruition,” Kuiper said.

Legacy Farms, another rural Clark County business, will use $99,930 to buy and install a 47-kilowatt solar array. The project is estimated to generate 55,000 kilowatt hours a year, an amount of energy that can power five homes.

The owner of Legacy Farms did not respond to The Columbian’s request for comment by the time of this publication.

Washington’s recipients are a few of nearly 700 projects nationwide also pursuing energy efficiency and renewable upgrades through the Rural Energy for America Program, which is providing $145 million total.

Federal funds stem from the department’s Rural Energy for America Program, which provides grants for rural businesses and farmers to incorporate energy-efficient systems into their operations. The program touches upon multiple categories for renewable upgrades, including wind, solar, anaerobic digestion, hydroelectric and geothermal power.

The 2022 Inflation Reduction Act directed more than $2 billion to the program for the next decade.

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This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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Columbian staff writer