USDA Announces Funding for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects

Name
Michael Dann
City
Bozeman
State
Montana
Release Date
Feb 12, 2015

 

Release #: 021215

 

USDA Announces Funding for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects

 

REAP Program Reduces Energy Costs for Ag Producers and Small Businesses, Boosts Economy, Reduces Dependence on Foreign Oil

BOZEMAN, Feb. 12, 2015 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and USDA Rural Development Montana State Director Anthony Preite announced that rural agricultural producers and small business owners can now apply for resources to purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements. These efforts help farmers, ranchers and other small business owners save money on their energy bills, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, support America's clean energy economy, and cut carbon pollution. The resources announced today are made possible by the 2014 Farm Bill.

"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," Vilsack said. "The funding we are making available will help farmers, ranchers, business owners, tribal organizations and other entities incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations. Doing so can help a business reduce energy use and costs while improving its bottom line. While saving producers money and creating jobs, these investments reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution as well."

USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested. Details on how to apply are on page 78029 of the December 29, 2014 Federal Register or are available by contacting state Rural Development offices.

USDA is offering grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The REAP application window has been expanded. USDA will now accept and review loan and grant applications year-round.

Eligible renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. This includes renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters). The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.

Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. The maximum grant amount is $250,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.

The REAP program was created in the 2002 Farm Bill. Because of the success of the program, Congress reauthorized it in the 2014 Farm Bill with guaranteed funding of no less than $50 million in annual funding for the duration of the 5 year bill. The 2014 Farm Bill builds on historic economic gains in rural America over the past six years while achieving meaningful reform and billions of dollars in savings for taxpayers.

Since 2009, USDA has awarded $545 million for more than 8,800 REAP projects nationwide. This includes $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems. When fully operational, these systems are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually – enough to power more than 5.5 million homes for a year.

“In FY 2014 USDA Rural Development provided $168,000 in funding for REAP projects in Montana” said Director Preite. “This year we are proud to announce that Montana received over six-times the funding for FY 2015! So we fully expect to fund close to $1 million in REAP projects this fiscal year!”

      USDA Rural Development Montana has already held three “Making Energy Work for Your Rural Business,” workshops in Missoula, Kalispell, and Bozeman. Also presenting at the workshop are the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT.) The next workshop is taking place in Billings on Thursday, February 19th.

 

     These workshops spotlight how businesses in Montana have realized a return on investment as a result of these energy improvements with the help of the REAP program.  Rural business owners, agricultural producers, and system installers will take away tools, templates, and business case studies to make their energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy system become a reality.

 

     For information on the next “Energy Workshop” in Billings, please contact Gloria Hawkins at (406) 657-6297 ext. 124 or at gloria.hawkins@mt.usda.gov. For information on other future workshops please contact Brent Donnelly at (406) 585-2549 or at brent.donnelly@mt.usda.gov.

 

President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment that has resulted in stronger rural communities. Under the President's leadership, these investments in housing, community facilities, businesses and infrastructure have empowered rural America to continue leading the way – strengthening America's economy, small towns and rural communities. USDA's investments in rural communities support the rural way of life that stands as the backbone of our American values.

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