Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants

Do you have an energy efficient idea for your farm or small business that could reduce energy use and result in financial savings for your operation? Maybe a project such as a grain dryer, or retrofitting lighting or insulation, maybe just adding solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources, or replacing equipment with more efficiency units. Or perhaps looking into diesel irrigation motors, upgrading poultry houses, new HVAC systems or more efficient windows for rural small businesses. All these projects and probably several more that you could think up would meet the criteria to apply for this grant. The only other requirements are that the project must be located in a rural area, owned by a farmer, rancher or a small business, produce energy in the form of heart, electricity or fuel, and is technically feasible. If your energy efficient or renewable energy project meets these guidelines, then what are you waiting for? You are eligible to apply for a Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant through USDA.

The REAP Grant was set up through Section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill and offers a grant, loan or grant/loan combination depending on the size of the project or the operations financial situation.

Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and are for up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Grants range from $2,500-$500,000 for renewable energy systems and between $1,500-$250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Applications are being accepted by USDA on a continual basis. This past year Hoosier Farmers received over $3.8 million in REAP funds for 47 projects. For more additional information please check out USDA’s REAP website for the full program guidance.

Please note, grant funds cannot be used for the following items: Purchase land, Provide working capital, Research and Development, Residential improvements, Vehicles or Waste collections.

One item I would like to point out is that while this grant is a great opportunity for farmers to take advantage of, the application for this grant is long and time consuming. Many farmers hire a grant writer to assist them with their proposals. So if you are interested in these funds, start now and make sure to do your homework and research in order to bring those grant dollars into your energy efficient farming operation.

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