USDA grants fund renewable, energy-efficiency projects in Western territory
More than 180 agricultural producers and rural small businesses in Western’s 15-state territory received grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help them reduce their energy use.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Aug. 17 the awarding of funds through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) totaling more than $11.6 million and covering all 50 states. “These investments enable our farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners to develop renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will save them thousands of dollars in energy costs each year,” said Vilsack.
Award funding is contingent on the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project’s cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables or $250,000 for efficiency. Eligible projects include energy-saving equipment, systems or improvements, energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. Applicants must be project owners located in a rural area, and the project must be technically feasible. An example is the Simpsons Brothers Greenhouses in Ovid, Mich., which received an $18,000 grant to make energy-efficiency improvements, such as installing greenhouse energy curtains designed to reduce energy consumption by 42 percent.
State, tribal or local government agencies; higher education institutions; rural electric cooperatives or public power utilities are eligible to apply for REAP grants. Utilities may also bring the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy into their communities and strengthen customer relations by helping consumers apply. Farmers, ranchers and small business owners may need energy audits or other types of technical assistance to improve their chances of receiving funding.
If your utility assisted a customer with applying for a REAP grant, share your experience with Energy Services. If you would like more information on the Rural Energy for America Program, contact your Rural Development state program office. Download the list of this year’s REAP awardees to see what kind of projects are receiving funding.