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A new program is now available in rural regions of New Hampshire to provide free technical assistance to business owners and agricultural producers, helping them evaluate and assess the potential for using renewable energy at their business.
Lakes Region Community College, along with Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative (PAREI) and New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association (NHSEA) are teaming together to provide this free technical assistance. Rural businesses interested in installing solar photovoltaic, solar thermal, wood heat, and other renewable energy technologies can receive helpful educational information and preliminary site evaluations at no cost.
This Renewable Energy Development Assistance two-year grant is part of USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which has a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy grant and loan programs.
According to Andy Duncan, Energy Training Manager at Lakes Region Community College (LRCC) who is coordinating the NH Rural Renewables effort, “our goal is to help businesses reduce their energy costs with sustainable solutions. We can help them take a close look at whether a renewable energy project is technically and financially feasible for their site. If a business likes the idea of renewables or energy efficiency, we want to help them take the next step, explore their options and make the process less complicated.”
The development assistance provided by NH Rural Renewables will be vendor neutral. “Our project team will work with business owners to help them become more knowledgeable about their options so they are more informed when it comes time to get quotes from renewable energy vendors,” said Duncan. The team will also be leveraging energy efficiency technical assistance from the utility-based NHSaves @ Work program as well as the Rural Energy Development Assistance grant team at the NH Community Development Finance Authority. “We like to say ‘reduce then produce’” said Duncan. “Energy efficiency and renewable energy work well together.”
The Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative will be lending their expertise to help in this endeavor. They will draw from their 14 years of renewable energy experience using field experts and interns to assist with the site evaluations and preparing reports for the interested business owners. “This is a fantastic hands-on educational opportunity for emerging energy professionals. We will be providing at least four different internship experiences as part of our participation in Rural Renewables”, said Sandra Jones, Co-Founder of PAREI.
“We often hear about the high cost of energy in New Hampshire — and many businesses are not aware that renewable energy technologies are a viable option to control their costs. As New Hampshire’s only statewide organization dedicated solely to clean energy advancement, we are excited to work with farmers and small business owners to harness the economic and environmental benefits of locally produced renewable energy,” said Kate Epsen, the Executive Director of the New Hampshire Sustainable Energy Association. “NHSEA will also bring the expertise of the long-standing NH Wood Energy Council — a group of dedicated members leading the deployment of modern wood chip and pellet heating — to this new program. Epsen adds, “we want to capitalize and streamline our collective decades of energy expertise for the good of our rural economy.”
The USDA Rural Development recognizes that energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies help rural businesses achieve economic sustainability. The Agency supports businesses making energy investments through REAP and has an upcoming grant deadline of October 31, 2017. Technical assistance programs such as NH Rural Renewables can help prepare businesses to access these federal funds. Businesses seeking information about REAP can contact USDA Energy Coordinator Ken Yearman at (802) 828-6070 or by email at email@example.com.
Interested businesses and agricultural producers can go to www.lrcc.edu/nhrr which has renewable energy information, web links, and a short survey. This survey will get the process going and will determine the business’ eligibility for the technical assistance. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the www.lrcc.edu/nhrr web site which also has contact information for LRCC, PAREI and NHSEA, who make up the NH Rural Renewables team.
About LRCC: Lakes Region Community College is a fully accredited, comprehensive community college located in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire that serves over 1,200 students annually. LRCC offers 28 associate degree programs including Nursing, Fire Technology, Business, Media Arts, Culinary Arts, Automotive, and Marine Technology, as well as short-term certificate programs. In addition, LRCC provides a strong background in Liberal Arts for students who choose to do their first two years at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college or university for a baccalaureate degree. LRCC is part of the Community College System of New Hampshire.