An agricultural program that promotes renewable energy use will build on its success if funding remains steady for it, according to Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Larry Craig. The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvement Program (also known as Section 9006), is currently funded at US$23 million a year to provide grants and loans to farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses to help them purchase renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.Washington D.C. – April 7, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] In a letter sent to the Appropriations Committee leadership, the bipartisan group of Senators encouraged full funding of the program in Fiscal Year 2005. Crapo, Craig and fourteen other Senators wrote, “This is an important initiative. It is the very first agricultural program to promote broad renewable energy and energy efficiency measures for the farm and rural business sectors. Clean energy development has become an alternate source of revenue for the farm sector and addresses many of our nation’s current challenges, including job creation, economic development, ensuring a sustainable energy supply, and environmental quality improvements.” Last year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) distributed nearly $22 million to 114 applicants in the Section 9006 program. The grants can be used for projects 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. According to government estimates, this investment will leverage roughly $100 million in new clean energy and efficiency projects, approximately 274 million kWh of saved electricity, and a reduction of half a million barrels of imported oil. Additionally, the total estimated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions equals 60,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Idaho was one of 24 states receiving grant funds last year; it received just over $1 million in program grants in 2003.