PISCATAQUIS CO., Maine — The Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District (PCSWCD) is hosting a Rural Energy Workshop for landowners, homeowners, farmers and small businesses in partnership with the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County Office and the Dover-Dexter Area Towns in Transition (DDAT). The workshop will be held on Friday, February 17th, with a snow date of Friday, February 24th, and will include lunch for workshop participants.
Energy efficiency, energy audits and information on various energy sources will all be discussed in this day-long workshop. The Rural Energy Workshop will host a dynamic line-up of presenters including Vaughan Woodruff, owner of InSource Renewables in Pittsfield, Chip Reier, owner of Pine Tree Energy, USDA Rural Development Business Programs Specialist Cheryl Pelletier, USDA Farm Service Agency Farm Loan Officer Trainee Janice Ramirez, and USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Assistant State Conservationist for Special Projects Christopher Jones. The presenters will all discuss several energy programs and options available for landowners, homeowners, farmers and small businesses needing technical and/or funding assistance to upgrade their energy systems to be more efficient.
Vaughan Woodruff, owner of Insource Renewables in Pittsfield, is the chair of the Committee on Renewable Energy, the trade association for Maine-based solar contractors. He writes for various national solar trade publications, trains professionals across the country, and serves on technical committees for a number of key organizations in the United States solar industry. Insource Renewables provides the design, installation, and service of solar electric, solar heating, and heat pump technologies for residential and commercial customers in Maine. As Woodruff notes, “People explore renewable energy projects for a variety of reasons. Many look to make a strong economic investment in their home or business. Others place a high value on the benefits of renewable energy, such as stabilized fuel costs, self-sufficiency, the support of local business, and clean energy production.”
Chip Reier, Owner of Pine Tree Energy, is a vendor for Efficiency Maine. Efficiency Maine is the independent administrator for energy efficiency programs in Maine, and helps homeowners lower their costs and environmental impacts of energy by promoting cost-effective energy efficiency and alternative energy systems. Reier will discuss Efficiency Maine’s rebate and loan programs, which can provide funding for in-home energy assessments and audits, and for implementing energy conservation strategies through Pine Tree Energy, such as spray foam, cellulose, air source and ground source heat pumps.
USDA Rural Development’s Cheryl Pelletier will highlight funding opportunities for rural energy efficiency and renewable energy such as USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants and loans. Pelletier is the Business Programs Specialist and the interim Business Program Director for USDA, Rural Development. She works specifically with the Business and Industry Guaranteed Loan Program as well as the Rural Energy for America Program grants and guaranteed loans. Pelletier has worked for USDA Rural Development since 1994 in several capacities, and is currently working out of the Presque Isle Area Office covering the entire State of Maine. USDA Rural Development programs are designed to meet the needs of rural landowners and businesses who have a need to improve their energy efficiency and renewable energy systems, as well as need financial assistance to make these improvements.
The USDA Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Janice Ramirez will discuss the types of loan programs available for farmers in rural areas to start, improve, expand and strengthen family farming operations, including energy systems. FSA provides viable farming opportunities for all farmers, including beginning farmers, racial and ethnic minority farmers and women producers.
The USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Assistant State Conservationist for Special Projects Christopher Jones, will detail the NRCS On-Farm Energy Initiative available for landowners through NRCS’ Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP). Jones has a Master of Science degree from the University of Maine, and one of his duties is the Energy Contact for Maine NRCS. This initiative enables eligible producers to identify ways to conserve energy on the farm through an Agricultural Energy Management Plan (AgEMP), also known as an on-farm energy audit; and by providing financial and technical assistance to help producers implement various measures and practices recommended in an on-farm energy audit. With a completed AgEMP or other qualifying energy audit, eligible producers can apply for EQIP assistance for the purchase and installation of improvements for lighting, cooling, ventilation, greenhouse improvements, maple syrup evaporators, irrigation pumps, grain dryers, heating and refrigeration units, building insulation and more.
There will be informational brochures and handouts provided by the presenters, the PCSWCD and the University of Maine Cooperative Extension Piscataquis County Office to supplement the workshop. A registration fee of $30.00 will include all workshop presentations, handouts and lunch. For more information, please contact PCSWCD’s Technical Coordinator Madeline Lubas at firstname.lastname@example.org or Executive Director, Joanna Tarrazi at email@example.com or by phone at 564-2321, extension 3.
–Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry
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