USDA announces renewable energy funding opportunities
Houston County Courier
TEMPLE - Agriculture Sec-retary Tom Vilsack has an-nounced that USDA Rural De-velopment is seeking appli-cants interested in increasing the production and use of re-newable energy sources. Funding is available from the USDA Rural Development Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. “This funding will help spur investments in technologies that will reduce reliance on fossil fuels, conserve natural resources and help build a sustained renewable energy industry in rural America,” Vilsack said. “Support provided by USDA through these programs will not only benefit the environment, it will create green jobs and help America become more energy self-sufficient.” Eligible projects include in-stalling renewable energy sys-tems 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 pro-gram helped fund 1,485 REAP projects in 50 states, the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific Islands. The program is designed to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses that are able to demonstrate financial need. All agricultural producers, including farmers and ranch-ers, who gain 50 percent or more of their gross income from the agricultural opera-tions are eligible. Small businesses that are lo-cated in a rural area can also apply. Rural electric coopera-tives may also be eligible to apply. Typically eligible busi-nesses have less than 500 em-ployees and revenue of less than $6.5 million. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25 percent of total eligi-ble project costs. Grants are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improve-ments. Requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements will be considered. USDA Rural Development will accept applications for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants and loans until 4:30 p.m. CST on June 30. All applications should be mailed to Business Programs, 101 S Main St, Suite 102, Temple, TX 76501. For in-formation, contact Daniel Torres or Billy Curb at the Texas State Office (254) 742-9780 or view the Notice of Solicitation of Applications http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-9580.pdf. Those interested in applying are encouraged to submit an application as soon as possi-ble. USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs. These programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural Ameri-ca. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $134 billion in loans and loan guarantees.