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Release No. 0301.05 Contact: USDA Press Office (202) 720-4623 - page 25 / 53





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provide a strong program.  So with your help, we would hope to see in Section 7412 that AFA be a part of that.

I thank you for your time.  The greatest resource here in rural America is standing before you in human capital in the youth under this tent here today, and we need to continue to support them.  Thanks for your time.

MODERATOR:  Thank you very much.


MS. DIANE HELGISON:  (sp) I am Diane Helgison from Saint Luke’s Lutheran Care Center in Blue Earth, Minnesota, Faribault County.  I appreciate the opportunity to be able to speak of our experience with Rural Development.  As our administrator just mentioned a few minutes ago, we were approved for a $3 million loan through Rural Development to upgrade our heating, ventilation air systems as well as fire sprinklers in our nursing home.  

Early in the process, we did contact several commercial lenders, but none of them could offer us terms that would have made the project economically feasible.  Nursing home rates are set by the federal and state governments and therefore we operate on an extremely tight budget.  We very much appreciate all of the assistance given us from Rural Development.  We have found the entire staff in Minnesota with whom we’ve had contact to be very helpful with the process in our $3 million loan that has been granted to us and also as we work with them on another loan to do our assisted living.

Rural Development has provided Saint Luke’s Lutheran Care Center with the necessary funding to improve on several health and safety concerns in our facility which is over 40 years old and needs updates.

           Thank you for your time.

MODERATOR:  Thank you for your comments.  And over here.

MR. MARK WILLERS:  Yes, Mr. Secretary, thanks for coming to Minnesota.  My name is Mark Willers.  I am the CEO of Minwind Energy.  Over the last five years, we took 300 farmers and put it together and we have nine wind projects operating now instead of leasing our land.  When you lease the projects to another entity you get about one percent of the gross revenue.  We moved the other 99 percent to us.  

Now, you just had Collin and Gil vote on an energy bill.  The PTC section of that, if that’s not kept in the Midwest, that money will also be moved to the coast.  We were fortunate enough to use seven pieces of the [Section] 9006 Farm Bill and the grants to build substations and infrastructure to make our operation work.  The one thing that happens, you have people in this tent that have transmission lines.  We will build many more transmission lines in Minnesota under the PUC order in the next two years.  If people in this tent own part of these projects, they are more willing to have transmission help electricity to our urban cousins.

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