Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today encouraged rural agriculture producers and small business owners to apply for assistance through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP helps small rural businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.
"Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America," Vilsack said. "The funding we are making available through this program 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 reduce energy use and costs while strengthening their bottom lines."
REAP provides grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs.
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).
Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption.
USDA is offering a second type of grant to support organizations that help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and operate renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include: units of state, tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and conservation and development districts. The maximum grant is $100,000.
USDA is making more than $280 million available to eligible applicants under REAP. Application deadlines vary by project type and the amount and type of assistance requested.
In Nevada, contact Mark Williams at (775) 887-1222 Ext. 116 to learn more.
The REAP application window has been expanded. USDA will accept and review loan and grant applications year-round.
REAP was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. The 2014 Bill reauthorized $50 million in annual REAP funding that is not contingent upon future Farm Bills.
REAP has helped farmers and agricultural producers expand renewable energy use in recent years. Since 2009, USDA has awarded more than $361 million in REAP grants and loans for more than 2,900 renewable energy systems, including solar, wind, geothermal, hydroelectric, anaerobic digesters and renewable biomass. When fully operational, REAP renewable energy
system projects are expected to generate more than 6 billion kilowatt hours annually of renewable energy; enough to power over 5.5 million homes for a year.
For example, in 2013, owners of the Ideal Dairy restaurant in Richfield, Utah, used REAP funding to install 80 solar modules and two 10-kilowatt inverters, which convert energy from solar panels to electricity. The owners have saved, on average, $400 per month. These savings have helped them preserve their restaurant and livelihood.
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.