USDA Rural Development has awarded $99,935 to the Nevada System of Higher Education Desert Research Institute (DRI) to conduct energy audits for small rural businesses and agricultural producers in northwestern Nevada and northeastern California. The energy audits will provide businesses, ranchers and farmers a way to identify their baseline energy use, enabling them to develop a plan to reduce energy costs.
The program will focus on rural dairies in northwestern Nevada and northeastern California within approximately 125 miles of Reno, Nev. There are plans to expand the program to rural small businesses such as restaurants and motels in the same geographical area.

USDA Rural Development State Director Sarah Adler applauded DRI’s initiative in applying for the energy audit funding, the first of its kind in Nevada.“It is likely that the audits will show ways that energy efficient technology investments would result in reduced energy costs, and our agency has a guaranteed loan program to underwrite the cost of those investments.  Those savings can then be redeployed toward business growth.”

Although the target audience is dairy farmers, other agricultural producers and small rural businesses are also welcome to apply for the energy audits. The energy audit will cost $960 and the grant will cover 75 percent of the cost.  Any dairy farmers, agricultural producers or small rural businesses interested can apply by contacting Curt Robbins at (775) 674-7129. Applications for the energy audits are available online at www.dri.edu/energy-assessments.

“It is exciting to put DRI’s expertise to work on behalf of rural businesses and agricultural producers through these energy audits, which will reduce CO2 emissions” said Curt Robbins, DRI Research Engineer.

The energy audit grant funds are made available by USDA Rural Development under the Rural Energy for America Program, which is authorized by the 2008 farm bill.