USDA invests over $300 million for renewable energy systems, including small hydropower

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Oct. 25 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than US$300 million in loans and grants to help hundreds of small businesses across the country save money on their energy costs by adopting renewable sources or implementing more efficient energy options through the Rural Energy for America program.

Two organizations that will use grant money to purchase and install hydropower renewable energy systems include: North Gooding Main Hydro LLC, which received $377,000; and White River Electric Association, which received $177,725.

Of note is the proposed 1.2-MW North Gooding Main small conduit hydroelectric project, near the Town of Gooding in Lincoln County, Idaho. The project would be located on the existing North Gooding Main Canal, which transports water for agricultural consumption.

In May 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission declared qualifying small conduit hydropower projects may be excluded from FERC jurisdiction if it utilizes the hydropower potential of a dam as long as the dam is not integral to the small conduit project. FERC issued a final order finding the small conduit project is eligible for exclusion from FERC jurisdiction.

Information on the exact location and capacity of the White River Electric Association’s planned project is not immediately available.

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Gregory B. Poindexter formerly was an associate editor for HydroWorld.com.

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