In The News

Company gets grant for renewable energy development

October 23, 2012  |  Winelco

By Eric Schwartzberg, Staff Writer


A Butler County company will use a federal grant to install a solar power system that will create renewable energy.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development agency recently awarded Winelco Inc. a $103,629 Rural Energy for America Program grant, which will allow the West Chester Twp.-based business to install a 90-kilowatt photo voltaic solar power system that will generate 97,570 kilowatt hours annually.

“We’re an environmental company so the green aspect of the project was attractive to us,” said Dan Ullman, vice president for Winelco, which designs, builds and operates water and waste water systems for residential, commercial and municipal waste water/water treatment industry sectors.

The project is projected provide for nearly 100 percent of the company’s electric needs at its Centre Park Drive facility, Ullman said.

Winelco, which moved to Butler County in 2003, now has 50 employees. It has two years to use the grant money toward the remaining balance of the system’s price tag, which initially was listed as $414,517 but may change, Ullman said.

“The project would be unfeasible without the grant,” he said.

Rural Development funds are used to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses in developing renewable energy systems, and in making energy-efficiency improvements to their operations.

REAP was initially authorized by Congress under the 2002 Farm Bill and was again reauthorized by Congress through the 2008 Farm Bill, according to Randy Monhemius, acting business program director for USDA, Rural Development, Ohio.

“REAP grants can pay for up to 25 percent of a project’s cost, so it is imperative the applicant can be able to pay for the balance of the project’s costs from cash on hand or borrowed capital,” Monhemius said.

Due to cuts in the program, REAP went from $75 million in funding for grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in fiscal year 2011 to $25 million nationally in 2012, Monhemius said.

Ohio was allocated $289,000 of the original $25 million for this program in fiscal year 2012, Monhemius said. Ohio successfully competed on a national basis for an additional $263,000, giving it a total of $552,000 in grant funding for 20 projects, Monhemius said.

“Over the last several years, grants have ranged from a low of approximately $1,500 to the maximum grant allowable of $500,000 depending upon the total costs associated with the projects, but never more than 25 percent of eligible project costs,” he said.