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August 21, 2018

Six businesses receive $530K in USDA Rural Development grants

Photo / Fred Field
Photo / Fred Field
Bill Mook; with a bag of his prized oysters at Mook Sea Farm by the Damariscotta River in Walpole. Some of his oyster cages are visible in the background in the river. Mook Sea Farm will receive $49,597 from the USDA to purchase and install a roof-mounted solar array to reduce its electricity costs.

Six small businesses in southern Maine have received nearly $530,000 in federal grants from two USDA Rural Development programs.

U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, announced the awards that are made through the USDA's Renewable Energy for America Program, or REAP, and its Value-Added Producer Grants Program.

Pingree, a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, which has oversight of USDA's research and development funding, during recent debate on the House Farm Bill spoke in opposition to funding cuts for REAP, VAPG and other R&D programs that have benefited Maine.

"These REAP grants will allow local businesses to save on energy costs while cutting fossil-fuel consumption through renewable energy production, a win-win for the local economy and environment," Pingree said. "These are the kinds of investments our rural communities absolutely need, which is why I'm proud to stand up for them in Congress."

How the grants will be used

Pingree's office noted that federal funds also leverage other sources of funding and provided summaries of the grants and how they will be used.

Value Added Producer Grant

Turtle Rock Farm, Brunswick, $250,000: This VAPG investment will be used to assist agricultural producers seeking to establish or expand markets for their value-added agricultural products. Turtle Rock Farm will use working capital grant funds to expand the marketing, preserving and canning of organic vegetables. The project will increase revenue to the farm, grow the customer base and increase the wholesale volume of Turtle Rock Farm.

Renewable Energy for America Program

T&D Wood Energy, Sanford, $200,000: This REAP investment will be used to build a mid-sized wood pellet manufacturing facility, adjacent to an operating white pine sawmill. The wood pellet mill will use all the wood waste residues from the sawmill, as well as purchasing additional wood waste residues from sawmills in the region. The project will generate enough electricity to power 15,142 homes.

Mook Sea Farm, Walpole, $49,597: Investment will be used for purchase and installation of a 90.28 kW roof-mounted solar array. Mook Sea Farm Inc. is an oyster farm founded in 1985 on the Damariscotta River in midcoast Maine. Its hatchery produces 80 to 100 million juvenile oysters (seed) annually for sale to other oyster growers throughout the mid-Atlantic and the Northeast as well as selling to the seafood market. This project will replace 101,700 kWh (49.74%), which is enough electricity to power nine homes, and will realize $14,238 in savings per year.

Flying Frog LLC, Freeport, $19,496: Investment will be used for the purchase and installation of a 34.5 kW roof-mounted solar array. Flying Frog LLC owns and leases commercial property. This project will benefit Buck's Naked BBQ in Freeport, a tenant of Flying Frog LLC. This system is projected to produce 41,524 kWh of electricity annually, generating 11% of business's electricity demands.

Mallory Property Holdings, Newcastle, $6,465: Investment will be used for the purchase and installation of a 10.98 kW roof-mounted solar array. Mallory Property Holdings LLC is a real estate holding company and co-owns the certified organic distillery Split Rock Distillery, located in Newcastle. Split Rock Distillery is open daily with tours, tastings and bottle sales creating all their products from scratch using only grains from the New England region producing gin, vodka, whiskey, bourbon and simple syrups. This project will realize $1,334 in electricity cost savings per year.

Porchside Properties, Dresden, $4,228: Investment will be used for the purchase and installation of a 5.49 kW roof-mounted solar array. Porchside Properties LLC owns Porchside Veterinary Care in Dresden, which offers wellness and sick patient examinations for small animals, spay/neuter and soft tissue surgery along with dentistry services. The system is projected to realize $998 in electricity cost savings per year.

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