The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has selected 113 applications for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement grants in 24 states totaling US$21,207,233, including over $1.2 million for nine recipients from Iowa. The grant program is part of the U.S. Government’s overall effort to increase America’s energy independence through the development of renewable energy resources as well as improving efficiency of existing systems.Des Moines, Iowa – August 28, 2003 [SolarAccess.com] “America’s rural businesses, farmers and ranchers are key to the development of renewable energy for our country,” Under Secretary for Rural Development Thomas C. Dorr said during a press conference with Senator Charles Grassley. “The capital investments being made through these grants will support the conversion of our natural resources and residuals of farming operations into new sources of energy and help meet the energy goals outlined by President Bush in 2001.” The 2002 Farm Bill authorized the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements program. Applicants for the funding include agricultural producers or rural small businesses, U.S. citizens or legal residents and have demonstrated financial need. Rural Development grant funds can be used to pay up to 25 percent of the eligible project costs. Eligible projects include those that derive energy from a wind, solar, biomass, or geothermal source, or hydrogen derived from biomass or water using wind, solar, or geothermal energy sources. Awards were made on a competitive basis for the purchase of renewable energy systems and to make energy improvements. Funding to assist with the development of renewable energy systems included: 35 applications totaling $7.4 million to support wind power, 30 applications totaling $7 million for anaerobic digesters, 6 applications totaling $1.1 million for solar and 16 applications totaling $3.9 million for a ethanol plants/anaerobic digesters, direct combustion and fuel pellet systems. Awards were made on a competitive basis for the purchase of renewable energy systems and to make energy improvements.