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Wasco’s ‘Cowgirl’ gets hot after federal makeover paid for by USDA

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(The Center Square) – Sometimes it gets chilly in the back of The Dirty Cowgirl, fortunately Oregon’s two Democratic senators have a fix.

At the Wasco saloon, the beer is served cold but the chicken gizzards are served warm and – thanks to some Biden administration largesse – your toes will be too.

The restaurant is receiving $12,000 in taxpayer dollars to replace its diesel furnace with a new high-efficiency heat pump. The funding comes from the Rural Energy for America Program created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The upgrade will save 80,225,869 British thermal units of electricity per year. It will also decrease the business’s energy use by 25% and cut its utility bill by $2,581 annually, according to a press release from the office of U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.

“Oregon’s small farms, ranches, and businesses know that leaning into renewable energy sources can help them significantly lower their energy costs, increase profits, and make them more sustainable over the long run,” Merkley said. “Unfortunately, the upfront costs of making that switch often leave rural businesses stuck with outdated energy infrastructure and higher monthly bills. This federal funding from REAP is critical to help rural Oregon businesses overcome financial hurdles and realize energy-efficient projects that are good for both their pocketbook and the planet.”

Wyden also supports the restaurant and other businesses in obtaining this funding.

“Rural communities in Oregon are often the first to feel the effects of our current climate crisis whether that be severe drought or wildfires,” Wyden said. “This federal REAP grant is critical to making a transition to clean energy accessible to communities that need affordable and sustainable utility options the most.”

The REAP program has existed since the Republican George W. Bush administration in 2008. It is aimed at helping businesses in rural America improve their energy efficiency and switch to green energy.

“The Biden-Harris Administration has been working hard to cut costs for our farms and small businesses, which are so critical to supporting a thriving rural Oregon. Many of our REAP recipients will replace 100 percent of their energy and cut their utility bills by thousands,” Margi Hoffmann, USDA Rural Development state director for Oregon, said. “With these grants, farms can cut emissions and grow resiliency while continuing to invest in innovative new products and attracting the best people.”

The Dirty Cowgirl Saloon was one of 20 businesses in Oregon to receive REAP funding this year; the companies received nearly $4.5 million combined.

The two largest grants were for $1 million each to Spitfire LLC dba Burns Solar in Burns, Oregon, and Fort George Brewery Public House in Astoria, Oregon. Spitfire will use the money to buy and install a 100-megawatt ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system, while Fort George Brewery will buy and install a 560-kilowatt roof-mounted solar system.

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