U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Kentucky State Director Dr. Tom Carew today announced the department will begin accepting applications on April 1 for grants to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses invest in renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements.
The department is making $1 billion in grants available through the Rural Energy for America Program with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.
“When we invest in our rural small businesses and agricultural producers, we know those investments reverberate across the region,” said Carew. “Clean, renewable energy is critical to the success of our economy, and the Inflation Reduction Act provides the resources to build a more prosperous rural America while tackling the climate crisis and lowering energy costs.”
Recipients may use REAP funds to install renewable energy systems or to make energy-efficiency improvements. Eligible applicants include rural small businesses and agricultural producers. The department will hold competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. The funding will also include the creation of the first underutilized technology fund in the REAP program, with $144.5 million available in dedicated funding.
USDA is particularly interested in REAP projects that will help rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and improved infrastructure, reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, conserve and protect farmland, and invest in underserved communities. The program is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.
To ensure small projects have a fair opportunity to compete for funding, USDA will set aside at least 20% of the available funds until June 30 of each year for grant requests of $20,000 or less, including the grant portion of a combined grant and guaranteed loan request.
The maximum federal share that may be requested is up to 50% of the total project cost for all energy-efficiency projects and zero-emissions renewable energy systems. An award of up to 50% of the total project cost is also available for any project in a designated energy community and/or submitted by an eligible tribal entity. All other projects are eligible to apply for grants of up to 25% of the total project cost. The maximum grant is $1 million for renewable energy systems and $500,000 for energy-efficiency projects.
Those seeking to apply in Kentucky should contact the Rural Business-Cooperative Service division at 859-224-7435 for more information.
Rural Development provides loans and grants to help expand economic opportunities, create jobs and improve the quality of life for millions of Americans in rural areas. This assistance supports infrastructure improvements; business development; housing; community facilities such as schools, public safety and health care; and high-speed internet access in rural, tribal and high-poverty areas. For more information, visit www.rd.usda.gov.