Program Accepting Applications For Energy Efficiency Improvements

TEMPLE, October 17, 2014 - As many U.S. farmers are discovering, renewable energy is the new cash crop of the 21st century.  Renewable energy and energy efficiency systems provide a significant opportunity to increase local revenue and the economic yield of land while bolstering the local job market.  Energy efficiency improvements are a useful tool for increasing farm or business productivity while reducing costs.  By investing in energy efficient equipment, agricultural producers and rural small businesses can enjoy savings and increased reliability for years to come.

USDA Rural Development provides financial assistance in the form of grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements through the Agency’s Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP).  REAP offers funds for farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements.

Many projects have been funded throughout Texas under the REAP program.  This funding was used for projects ranging from installation of solar and wind renewable energy sources, improving irrigation systems, upgrades to air conditioning and refrigeration units, and retrofitting poultry houses with more energy efficient equipment.
 
Grants can fund up to 25% of a project’s total eligible costs, and are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy projects or $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.  Grants as low as $2,500 for renewable energy projects and $1,500 for energy efficiency projects, will be considered.  Guaranteed loans can fund up to 75% of a project’s total eligible costs, with a minimum of $5,000 and a maximum of $25 million. 

All agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, who derive 50% or more of their gross income from agricultural operations are eligible.  Businesses in a rural area which meets the Small Business Administration size standards can also apply.  A private entity, a rural utility, and rural electric cooperatives are typically eligible, however non-profit and public bodies are not eligible.

The first round of REAP applications will be due in January 2015 and the second in April 2015.  For more information on the program and to apply for funding, details are available on the USDA Rural Development website, http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/BCP_Reap.html. Applications should be submitted to the USDA Renewable Energy Coordinator, Billy Curb, at billy.curb@tx.usda.gov, or call 254-742-9775 for more information. 

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