Companies in Anthony and Belle Plaine awarded $270K in USDA grants for solar arrays


Two area companies were awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture for renewable energy investments.

According to a news release from the USDA Monday morning, Zimmerman Ag Service, Inc., of Belle Plaine and Central Electropolishing Company, Inc., of Anthony, will receive federal grant monies for solar arrays.

The news release said the grants will “help agricultural producers and rural small business owners make energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy investments to lower energy costs, generate new income and strengthen the resiliency of their operations.”

Zimmerman Ag Service will receive $20,800 to help purchase and install a 20-kilowatt solar array and the project is estimated replace 29,340 kilowatt hours per year — enough energy to power two homes, USDA says.

Zimmerman Ag Service has one employee, according to the news release.

Central Electropolishing Company, Inc., will receive a grant amount of $247,250 to help purchase and install a 208-kilowatt solar array. USDA estimates the project will replace 421,670 kilowatt hours per year, enough energy to power 39 homes. The company has 29 employees, according to USDA.

Statewide grants totaled $4.21 million.

“Rural Development is ensuring small businesses in rural Kansas are part of the clean energy economy,” USDA Rural Development Kansas State Director Christy Davis said. “The investments announced today expand access to renewable energy infrastructure and help Kansans save money on their energy costs.”

The grants are funded by the Rural Energy for America Program — or REAP — which was authorized by Congress in the 2008 Farm Bill.

The program recently saw a funding increase of $2 billion via the passage of the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act.

No Republicans voted for the Inflation Reduction Act in the House — including Congressman Ron Estes of south central Kansas, whose district includes the companies in Anthony and Belle Plaine that applied for the grant funding. Still, it passed 220-213.

In the U.S. Senate, Kansas Senators Jerry Moran and Roger Marshall also joined their GOP colleagues en masse against the Inflation Reduction Act. It passed via a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Kamala Harris 51-50 before it was signed into law by President Joe Biden last August.

Eligible recipients for the grants included state, tribal or local governments; colleges and universities; electric cooperatives and utility companies; and for-profit and nonprofit organizations.