For the past two years, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), an initiative of the 2008 Farm Bill managed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development division, has made it possible for farmers and rural small businesses to obtain grants and loan guarantees to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack recently announced more than $27 million in REAP program grants and loan guarantees for over 500 agricultural producers and rural small businesses across the country. This year’s funded projects include the development of a cooperatively owned biodigester system in Pennsylvania that will generate electricity from the methane gas produced by dairy, hog and chicken manure; the installation of ethanol flex-fuel dispensers at a Wisconsin cooperative; and the installation of a grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) system and geothermal heating and cooling system at New Hampshire agricultural operations center. An entire list of funded projects can be found here.
Awardees can use grants to finance up to 25 percent of a project’s cost (not to exceed $500,000 for renewable energy systems, or $250,000 for efficiency). Funding of each award is contingent upon the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. The Rural Development program has a portfolio of more than $155 billion in loans and loan guarantees.
“This funding is an important part of the Obama administration’s plan to help the nation’s farmers, agricultural producers and rural small businesses conserve natural resources, create more green jobs and lead us on the path to becoming an energy independent nation,” Vilsack said. More information about the program can be found through the Agriculture Department here.