Amana, Iowa [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns announced the award of $17,510,887 in Section 9006 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program Grants to 375 recipients in 36 states today. The grant program increases America’s energy independence through the development of renewable energy resources as well as improving efficiency of existing systems.Rural Development grant funds can be used to pay up to 25% of the eligible project costs. Additionally, the program provides loan guarantees up to $10 million to fund up to 50% of eligible projects. Over $4.6 million in federal funds was allocated in loan guarantees and grants under the program earlier this year. 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 are made on a competitive basis for the purchase of renewable energy systems and to make energy improvements. States receiving funding are Alaska, Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Iowa, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massaschusetts, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Wisconsin, West Virginia, and Wyoming. “These grants will directly promote energy savings and increased energy production in rural America,” Johanns said. “The Bush Administration is committed to providing more energy from within our nation’s borders, especially here in America’s agricultural heartland and these grants will help accomplish this goal.” Since 2003 when the program was established, USDA has provided $87.3 million in grants and $34.3 million in loan guarantees to 844 applicants.