Award recognizes program’s contribution to community wind development
Windustry’s Community Wind Distinguished Service Award for 2015 went to a champion of energy efficiency and renewable energy development in small towns and farming communities.
The Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) received the award for its exemplary efforts to break new ground in making community and distributed wind accessible to all. The Windustry board of directors and a group of wind professionals presented the award to John Beeler of the USDA on March 26 at the advocacy group’s headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Funding for renewables, efficiency
REAP has done outstanding work for rural communities since 2002, providing guaranteed loan financing and grant funding for a wide variety of renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements.
In addition to wind generation, agricultural producers and rural small businesses may use REAP funds to buy, install or build:
- Biomass (e.g. biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
- Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
- Small and large solar generation
The 2008 Farm Bill added tidal, wave, ocean thermal and hydroelectric systems below 30 megawatts to the list of eligible technologies.
REAP grants also fund projects that save energy (electricity, propane or natural gas or diesel fuel). Dairy pumps and cooling systems, weatherization of poultry houses, efficient lighting and ventilation, irrigation equipment, industrial motors and supermarket refrigeration systems are eligible.
Energy-efficiency grants cannot be used to expand facilities, or to support agricultural equipment or other vehicles. For renewable energy systems, only proven, commercially available and pre-commercial technology is eligible. Residential renewable energy systems do not qualify for grants, unless a small business, such as a rural electric cooperative, owns the system. Also, grants cannot fund research and development activities.
Still time to apply for 2015
Funding for Fiscal Year 2014 and FY2015 were combined this year for a total of $101 million, most of which has been allocated. However, the application deadline for the final round of REAP funding in 2015 is June 30.
Applicants should contact their USDA state energy coordinator early. State energy coordinators can help review applications and offer guidance, but they generally have less time to assist closer to the deadline. FarmEnergy.org, a website that provides information on the Energy Title programs of the Federal Farm Bill, is another source of assistance to newcomers to the application process.
Utilities also benefit from this often-overlooked source of funding for projects that support their efficiency and renewable energy goals and requirements. Contact your local REAP office to learn more about the application process, and then share that knowledge with eligible customers. You will not only increase customer loyalty, you may be helping REAP to win its next award.
Source: Western’s Green Power News via Windustry, 4/18/15