JAMESTOWN, N.D. — Agri-Cover Inc.’s geothermal heating and cooling system in its new facility will save the business over $100,000 per year and is the largest of 31 projects in the state that were awarded grant funding through the Rural Energy for America Program, according to Erin Oban, state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development.
Oban said Wednesday, Aug. 30, at Agri-Cover that $4 million in grants were awarded by the USDA to 31 rural small businesses and agriculture producers in North Dakota to make investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements that will lower their energy costs, generate new income and strengthen the resilience of their own operations. The USDA invested $266 million into 1,334 renewable energy and energy-efficiency projects in 47 states, Guam and Puerto Rico.
“This helps contribute to the (President Biden) administration’s goals of responding to climate change in ways that real people can make a difference that make it feasible and achievable for places in North Dakota for people in North Dakota to do even a small part in a way that also puts money back into their pockets, back in their operations,” Oban said.
She said Rural Development received $1.3 billion from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act in 2022 which was dedicated to the Rural Energy for America Program. The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements, according to the Rural Development’s website.
“For some, it might be reducing their carbon emissions or assisting in responding to climate change,” Oban said. “For others, it’s as simple as I want to be able to save more money and invest that savings into my own business. We see this as a way of making it more within reach for more regular North Dakotans who are just trying to do the right thing or save money.”
The Schmeichel Brothers Development Property LLP is the recipient of almost $488,000 that was used to help cover the costs of installing a geothermal heating and cooling system. The Schmeichel Brothers Development Property LLP operates a family-owned real estate holding entity, leasing commercial property to Agri-Cover, according to the project description in a handout provided by USDA Rural Development.
Agri-Cover makes electric tarps for farm vehicles, semitrailers and fertilizer carts. It also makes tarps and hard covers for every model of pickup truck.
The geothermal heating and cooling system will replace over 1.5 million kilowatt hours per year, which is enough electricity to power 138 homes, Oban said.
“That is a requirement of their application is to show how much energy they anticipate saving by this investment,” she said.
Geothermal heating and cooling technology is a renewable resource that harnesses the Earth’s heat below the surface, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website. The website says ground source heat pumps and direct-use geothermal technologies serve heating and cooling applications, while deep and enhanced geothermal technologies generally take advantage of a much deeper, higher temperature geothermal resource to generate electricity.
Josh Enger, accounting manager for Agri-Cover, said the total cost to purchase and install the geothermal heating and cooling system in its new facility was about $1.7 million. Northern Plains Plumbing, Heating & Air from Bismarck installed the system.
Agri-Cover’s new facility is more than 120,000 square feet and will allow the business to expand its capacity to meet customers’ needs.
Masaki Ova joined The Jamestown Sun in August 2021 as a reporter. He grew up on a farm near Pingree, N.D. He majored in communications at the University of Jamestown, N.D.
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