The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $68 million in grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The latest round of awards under the agency's Rural Development arm's Rural Energy for America Program will support 540 projects at farm and rural business sites across the country.
Since its creation in the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP has supported more
than 8,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide with over $276 million in grants
and $268 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural
small business owners. Eligible agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use
REAP funds to make energy efficiency improvements or install renewable
energy systems including solar, wind, biomass and
anaerobic digesters, small hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen, and
geothermal projects. (For looks at previous REAP winners, check out these posts from 2011 and 2013.)
In this year's REAP funding round, USDA awarded about $68 million in investment support. Of this, $12,376,548 will come in the form of grants, while $56,449,244 will come as loan guarantees. While most grants are under $100,000 per project (with some below $10,000), there were some larger grant awards: for example, a biomass anaerobic digester in California won $290,000, an off-grid solar project in Hawaii won $123,338, and a direct use geothermal heat pump in Oklahoma won $133,250. Of the loan guarantees, $55.3 million will go to support 22 solar photovoltaic projects in North Carolina, mostly ranging between 2 megawatts and 5 megawatts per project.
In each case, funding is contingent upon the recipients meeting the terms of the loan or grant agreement. USDA's hope is that these grants and loan guarantees will enable American agricultural producers and rural
small business owners to reduce their energy costs.
REAP was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill, so expect USDA Rural Development to solicit more REAP projects later this year. While not all sites may qualify, USDA's definition of eligibility is more broad than many assume. The Preti Flaherty team helps our clients understand how to benefit from REAP funding and other incentive programs for renewable energy and energy efficiency. Contact Todd Griset to learn more.