Florida Solar Energy Center Offers Free Renewable Energy Workshops for Farmers, Ranchers and Rural Small Businesses

To help increase the number of Florida agricultural businesses that apply for nearly $30 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses with renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC) will conduct workshops in Tallahassee (May 18) and Stuart (May 23). Since only a few Florida farmers or ranchers are taking advantage of these opportunities, FSEC received a grant through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Million Solar Roofs Program to develop and administer these workshops to Florida’s rural and agricultural communities.

To assist applicants for the grants in meeting the requirements for the Farm Bill Funds, the FSEC workshops will examine qualifying renewable energy (RE) and energy efficient technologies and provide a basic overview of how these technologies work. There will also be case studies of rural renewable energy and efficiency applications with a focus on solar and biomass.

The workshops will review each aspect of the application process. Each participant will work with a sample application, following the steps to applying while identifying potential projects and considering methods to secure project financing and to locate contractors and technology experts. Strategies will be presented for designing the project and dealing with permitting issues, as well as conducting a payback analysis. The workshop will finish with an open question and answer forum.

These free workshops are available to rural businesses and cooperatives and all agencies with an interest in pursuing these funds as well as low interest loans through USDA’s Farm Bill Program.

To register for a workshop, go to www.sunsmart.org/workshop_registration.htm and choose one of the following workshop dates:
* May 18, 2005 (Tallahassee, Florida)
* May 23, 2005 (Stuart, Florida)

You can also register by calling Jennifer Szaro at 321-638-1427.

Lunch will be sponsored by the Florida Solar Energy Research and Education Foundation (FLASEREF).

For more information about the workshops, contact Jennifer Szaro at 321-638-1427, jszaro@fsec.ucf.edu.

The Florida Solar Energy Center, a research institute of the University of Central Florida, is the largest and most active state-supported energy research center in the country. Current research activities include solar water and pool heating, solar electric and distributed generation systems, energy-efficient buildings, alternative transportation systems, hydrogen fuel, fuel cells and other energy areas. For more information about the center, visit www.fsec.ucf.edu or call the FSEC Public Information Office at (321) 638-1015.