DEM awards 3 R.I. farms grants for energy efficiency

PROVIDENCE – Three farms in Foster, Little Compton, and Smithfield will aim to decrease costs and upgrade business operations with a combined $54,000 in energy grants, the R.I. Department of Environmental Management announced Thursday.

The projects, which are funded through the Rhode Island Farm Energy Program, seek to save both energy and money by encouraging farmers across the state to “green” their operations.

“By reducing energy costs, these grants will help Rhode Island farming families keep farming and grow their businesses,” Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said. “Our commitment to investing in clean energy will help create jobs and protect the beauty of our state for generations. This is a win for Rhode Island farmers and for all Rhode Islanders.”

Legend’s Creek Farm in Foster received a $19,634 award that will provide a reduction in heating and cooling costs through upgrades of the windows and insulation in the business operation building. Skinny Dip Farm in Little Compton was awarded a $15,000 grant for the installation of a 10.915kW solar roof to power its vegetable farm, while Richard Leveque of Smithfield received $20,000 to help offset the cost of the installation of a 25.2kW solar photovoltaic system that will decrease his farm’s dairy operation costs.

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“Rhode Island farms are doing their part to make Rhode Island cleaner and greener,” DEM Director Janet Coit said in a statement. “Congratulations to our grant recipients and to all partners involved in our efforts to bring clean, reliable, and affordable renewable energy to Rhode Island farms. Rhode Island is charting a bold course in clean energy, and we’re excited to announce these grant awards.”

The DEM’s efforts to both strengthen Rhode Island’s green economy and support the growth of local farming businesses have helped the state to become one of few nationally where the number of farms is increasing. According to the DEM, 1,200 farms populate Rhode Island, a 44 percent increase since 2002. Currently, the state’s green industries account for more than 15,000 jobs and contribute $2.5 billion to the economy each year.

“When farmers invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy for their farms, they lower their electric bills which can provide them with more capital they can use to grow their businesses,” State Energy Commissioner Carol Grant said. “These projects help sustain our farms and our Rhode Island food economy.”

Haley Hunt is a PBN contributing writer.