KIUC workshop for rural business today

USDA/Rural Development, in partnership with Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, is hosting a free workshop for rural small businesses and farmers and ranchers today.

The workshop will be held at the KIUC Main Conference Room located at 4463 Pahe‘e St. in Lihu‘e today from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Speakers with KIUC, Garden Isle RC&D, County of Kaua‘i, and USDA Rural Development will provide information on various opportunities for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for Kaua‘i. USDA Rural Development will focus on financing opportunities — in the form of guaranteed loans and or grants. Rural Development State Director Lorraine P. Shin states in a press release: “Hawai‘i has been awarded $197,000 for six solar projects (out of 15 applications submitted) since the program started in 2002. Although the grant program is competitive nationwide, we have been able to get a good percentage of our applications funded. For this year, we would like to increase the level of funding to our local agriculture and small business community to help reduce Hawai‘i’s dependence on fossil fuels. Also, we are putting more emphasis on funding energy efficiency projects for Hawai‘i.”

Energy efficiency improvement projects can be in addition to a renewable system and include things such as retrofitting existing processing operations, replacing lighting/refrigeration/electric motors with more efficient equipment, and even build a more energy-efficient facility (when the facility is used for the same purpose, is approximately the same size, and based on the energy audit will provide more energy savings than improving an existing facility.) The program can be used to purchase and install renewable energy systems: solar, bioenergy (biomass, biogas), geothermal, wind and hydrogen.Applications are currently being accepted, although no program dollars have yet been allocated for FY 2007. A deadline of April 2007 is anticipated for the first round of grant applications and a July 2007 deadline for guaranteed loan and combination guaranteed loan/grant applications.

Only ranchers/farmers and rural small businesses are eligible to apply.

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