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Brookhaven driller awarded USDA grant

A Brookhaven drilling company received one of five USDA grants — nearly $70,000 total —to be used for a project that will help reduce energy cost.

The Big H Directional Drilling Co. received a $6,733 grant that will be used to install a solar array system.

Four other businesses in Mississippi also earned nods from the USDA, said Justin Wilkes, public affairs and community economic development coordinator.

In Bay Springs, BMW Farms Inc. received a $20,000 grant that will be used to upgrade brooders, fans and baffles, while in Brooksville, owner Kendall Jost received a $15,000 grant to upgrade the aeration systems of the catfish ponds. In Vicksburg, the Magnolia Metal and Plastic Products Inc. received a grant of $6,181 to make upgrades to their lighting systems, resulting in increased energy efficiency and in Greenwood, Walter Pillow and Sons Planting Co. received a $20,000 grant to upgrade their grain dryer.

The USDA awarded the grants for projects in all states and Puerto Rico to reduce energy costs farmers, agriculuture producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

“Energy costs represent a large expense for many businesses,” said State Director for USDA Rural Development John Rounsaville. “Lowering these costs helps rural businesses improve their bottom line and create jobs.”

The USDA is investing $9.3 million through the Rural Energy for America Program for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects across the nation. Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. USDA will make additional funding announcements in the REAP program in coming weeks.

Recipients can use REAP funding for a variety of needs, such as conducting energy audits and installing renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower and solar.  Funds also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration.

Like Big H Directional Drilling, many businesses nationwide will use the grants to switch to solar power.

USDA Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities and create jobs in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.