A new initiative is aiming to provide farms, forestry operations, manufacturers, Main Street businesses and other rural companies with greater access to energy-saving expertise and related funding in order to improve their bottom lines.
The Rural Maryland Council (RMC-MAERDAF) has awarded grant funds for a Capacity Building Project developed by three collaborators: FEWSS Project (Forest Glen Commonwealth, Inc.), the Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Development Corporation (MARBIDCO), and the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC). Each organization has a longstanding commitment to serving Maryland businesses, farms and communities.
The Smart Energy Investments with Bottom-Line Benefits (SEI-BLB) program will provide education, tools, coaching, action-support, energy audits and other services to rural businesses and farms located in Maryland.
“The Smart Energy Investments with Bottom-Line Benefits initiative was designed to help Maryland farms and small businesses increase profitability by helping operators identify and implement energy and resilience measures. I am glad MCEC is a partner in this Rural Maryland Council supported project,” said Kathy Magruder, Executive Director for the Maryland Clean Energy Center.
Steve McHenry, Executive Director of MARBIDCO, explained that “loan money and incentives are available to farms and businesses, including those in aquaculture and forestry sectors, to reduce their operating costs and provide more money to the bottom line. This project is designed to deliver tools for businesses to take necessary next-steps to unlock these funds with a solid return-on-investment.”
During the last several years, many businesses’ profitability has been shrinking, whether due to COVID-19 impacts, commodity price crunches, supply-chain challenges, other reasons or a combination of factors. The SEI-BLB project is intended to deliver the information, tools and navigational services needed for local rural businesses and farms to reduce their cost of electricity by making smart investments in energy efficient assets or renewable energy systems.
Entities to be served: Farms (family farms and incorporated agricultural businesses), forestry and aquaculture businesses, Main Street businesses and manufacturers.
Areas to be served: Businesses in 15 rural Maryland counties which are members of Tri-County Councils.
The program aims to connect businesses to resources by providing simple, up-to-date information, energy-savings approaches and coaching services to enable more businesses to take advantage of energy savings and renewable energy grants, incentives and loans that are currently available through some or all of the following sources:
- Maryland Electric Utilities (Various)
- Maryland Energy Administration (MEA)
- Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC)
- Maryland Agricultural & Resource-Based Development Corporation (MARBIDCO)
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Local/Regional Incentives
The Smart Energy Investments with Bottom-Line Benefits program will be developing resources and launching a website. To receive the latest program information, please contact the Project Director, Rebecca Rush.