USDA Rural Development is seeking interested applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems.
"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. "This funding will help farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent. When small rural businesses and farmers cut their energy costs with cleaner and more efficient energy, we are both helping their bottom lines and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate."
Through its Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), grants and guaranteed loans are available for eligible applicants to alleviate the investment for energy systems. Created by the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill. For Fiscal Year 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees.
USDA is accepting applications for:
- Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantee and grant combinations;
- Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees; and
- Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants.
Requests for grants may not exceed 25 percent of a project's cost – either for stand-alone grant requests or for grants combined with loan guarantees.
"I encourage the farmers, ranchers and small businesses owners in the Western Pacific to take advantage of this funding opportunity for investments in energy systems," said USDA Rural Development State Director for Hawaii and the Western Pacific Chris Kanazawa. "Although these projects can be costly, REAP offers an affordable financing alternative that can help producers and businesses owners improve their bottom line while becoming more environmentally friendly."
Since the start of the Obama Administration, REAP has supported more than 8,200 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. During this period, USDA has provided more than $264 million in grants and $212 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners.
Recently American Printing Corporation received a $24,170 REAP grant to help offset the cost of installing a 20 KW solar system on their building's roof in Tamuning, Guam. With the cost of power doubling for the family buisness, the grant helped reduce costs while improving the environment.
"Guam has been our home for over 36 years, and knowing that we are not only saving energy but also doing our part to save our environment and help make Guam a greener place, is a rewarding feeling," said James Yu, co-owner and manager of American Printing Corporation.
Information on how to apply for REAP funding and on the application deadlines (which vary by project type) is available on page 25564 of the May 5, 2014 Federal Register.
President Obama's plan for rural America has brought about historic investment and 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. President Obama and Agriculture Secretary Vilsack are committed to a smarter use of federal resources to foster sustainable economic prosperity and ensure the government is a strong partner for businesses, entrepreneurs and working families in rural communities.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, has a portfolio of programs designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America.