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USDA invites applications for renewable energy and energy efficiency funding

Fri, May 14th, 2010
Posted in Business Announcements

USDA Rural Development State Director Colleen Landkamer recently announced that USDA is seeking applications to increase the production and use of renewable energy sources.

USDA is accepting applications for grants and loan guarantees in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) until June 30, 2010. More information on how to apply for funding is available in the April 26, 2010, Federal Register. The Rural Energy for America Program provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

Eligible projects include installing renewable energy systems such as wind turbines, solar, geothermal, biomass, anaerobic digesters, hydroelectric, and ocean or hydrogen systems. Funding may also be used to purchase energy-efficient equipment, add insulation, and improve heating and cooling systems. In fiscal year 2009, this program helped fund 1,485 REAP projects in 50 states, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific Islands. Minnesota farmers and small businesses have been awarded over $60 million since the program began in 2003.

"The Rural Energy for America Program enables owners of small rural businesses, farms and ranches to reduce energy consumption, part of President Obama's effort to reduce our reliance on foreign oil and the destabilizing effects of a changing climate," Landkamer said. "Through this program, farmers, agricultural producers and small business owners will be able to upgrade or replace outdated, inefficient systems in their operations. That not only saves money, it supports job creation in rural Minnesota."

In addition to the REAP program, USDA is also planning to accept applications for three other renewable energy programs: the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Program and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Details on how to apply will be released later this week in the Federal Register.

USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program provides guaranteed loans to develop and construct commercial-scale biorefineries or to retrofit existing facilities using eligible technology for the development of advanced biofuels. The amount of a loan guaranteed for a project under this program cannot exceed 80 percent of total eligible project costs.

The Repowering Assistance Program is designed to encourage the use of renewable biomass as a replacement fuel source for fossil fuels used to provide process heat or power in the operation of eligible biorefineries (those biorefineries in existence on June 18, 2008 -- the date the 2008 Farm Bill was enacted).

The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels works to support and ensure expanding production of advanced biofuels by providing payments to eligible advanced biofuels producers. Advanced biofuels are derived from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch. These include cellulose, sugar and starch, crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food and yard waste, vegetable oil, animal fat, and biogas (including landfill gas and sewage waste treatment gas). This program is an important part of achieving the Obama administration's goal to increase biofuels production and use.

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