Friday, August 20, 2021

DEP: $1 Million In Small Business Grants Available For Farm Conservation, Energy Efficiency, Pollution Prevention Projects; Funding Source Goes Off Fiscal Cliff This Year

On August 20, the Department of Environmental Protection announced $1 million in
2021 Small Business Advantage Grant funding is available to small businesses and farmers who want to improve their operations through energy efficiency, pollution prevention, and natural resource protection.

Grants are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Many small business owners with an innovative mindset see the economic opportunity in energy efficiency and sustainability. DEP is committed to assisting small business owners and small farmers in Pennsylvania who want to improve their operations, reduce operating costs, and increase profitability, while helping to improve the natural resources all Pennsylvanians depend on,” said DEP Secretary Patrick McDonnell.

DEP Northwest Regional Office Director Erin Wells toured an equipment upgrade that GeorgeKo in Erie made with a 2020 Small Business Advantage Grant. 

As a result, this family-owned manufacturer of molded plastic parts for various industries reduced machine operation time by 30 percent. They cut their electricity use by more than 64,000 kilowatt hours, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 51 metric tons. 

“In just the past few years, DEP has provided Small Business Advantage Grants to 45 businesses in Erie. We’re pleased to support local businesses, like GeorgeKo, in achieving their goals of becoming more energy efficient and making a difference environmentally in their community,” said Wells. 

Pennsylvania small business owners and farmers with 100 or fewer full-time employees can get Small Business Advantage Grants for HVAC and boiler upgrades, high-efficiency LED lighting, solvent recovery and waste recycling systems, auxiliary power units that eliminate truck engine idling, and other projects that reduce energy use. 

Grant funding also supports streambank buffers, fencing to keep livestock out of streams, and other agricultural stormwater runoff management projects that reduce sediment and nutrient pollution in local waters. 

The 2021 Small Business Advantage Grants program has $1 million available for projects. Small businesses and farms can apply for 50 percent matching funds up to $5,000. 

Extra consideration is given to those in Environmental Justice areas.

Last year, 212 small businesses and farms received more than $950,000 in total funding. 

Their projects saved over 6.6 million kilowatt hours of electricity, reduced diesel fuel use by over 20,000 gallons, eliminated almost 73 tons of coal use, prevented over 200,000 pounds of sediment and 7,000 pounds of nitrogen from entering waterways, and had other positive impacts on the environment.

“Having funding like the Small Business Advantage Grant available for energy efficiency improvement projects is important, as it really helps a small business like GeorgeKo justify the capital expenditure and lessen the cost to upgrade building infrastructure or machinery,” said GeorgeKo President Matt Koket. “Upgrading equipment saves us dollars on energy consumption, which in the long run makes us more competitive, because newer equipment runs faster cycles and costs less than older equipment, which enables us to win more projects that we’re bidding on.”

“With the Small Business Advantage Grant, we purchased an electric induction furnace, converting from natural gas furnaces,” said Denise Adams, vice president of K Castings, Inc., which manufactures castings, pattern equipment, and custom plaques in Westmoreland County. “Our new furnace enables us to operate efficiently by increasing production capability, providing steady and hopefully growing employment, and operating with cleaner technology with virtually no environmental impact. This funding was essential in enabling us to purchase new equipment to be competitive in the 21st century.”

“This grant came at a great time for us, enabling us to upgrade our systems, improve our HVAC reliability, and also lower our utility bills at the same time. It was a huge help for us, especially during the pandemic, that we could get all this done at once, ” said Jeff Horst, Animal Health Care of Myerstown in Lebanon County.  

The Small Business Advantage Grants program is funded through the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act of 1988.  

For more information on this program, visit DEP’s Small Business Advantage Grant Program webpage.

Related Articles:

-- DEP’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Funding Goes Off Fiscal Cliff This Year

[Posted: August 20, 2021]  PA Environment Digest

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