Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack last week announced that USDA is seeking applications to provide assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Funding is available from USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.
“The Obama Administration continues its commitment to help our nation become more energy independent by partnering with agricultural producers and rural small businesses as they build renewable energy systems and reduce energy usage,” said Vilsack. “These investments will not only help our farmers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs, but also provide a new potential revenue source and stabilize their operations’ bottom lines.”
REAP, authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008, (Farm Bill) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs. USDA is accepting the following applications:
- Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications until April 30, 2013;
- Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications until July 15, 2013;
- Renewable energy system feasibility study grant applications through April 30, 2013.
More information on how to apply for funding is available in the March 29, 2013 Federal Register, pages 19183-19190.
Since the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill and through the end of Fiscal Year 2012, REAP has funded nationwide over 6,800 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, feasibility studies, energy audits, and renewable energy development assistance projects.
Examples include Edaleen Cow Power LLC, located near Lynden, Washington, which received a REAP loan and grant combination to install an anaerobic digester and sell the resulting electricity to a utility. The project is anticipated to generate 4,635 Megawatt hours per year. Manure produced by Edaleen Dairy’s 2,450-head herd is the sole feedstock for the project and the dairy benefits from the bedding byproduct the digester produces. Also, in Augusta, Wisconsin, farmer Matthew Gabler received a grant to assist in installation of an 11 kilowatt wind turbine to produce approximately 29,000 kilowatt-hours a year for his farm.
This funding is an example of the many ways that USDA is helping revitalize rural economies to create opportunities for growth and prosperity, support innovative technologies, identify new markets for agricultural producers, and better utilization of our nation’s natural resources.