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Rural Energy Awards Help Farmers Keep the Lights On

May 11, 2016


Seldom Rest Farms of Myerstown, PA used REAP to help finance solar panels on their farm. Photo credit: USDA.

Seldom Rest Farms of Myerstown, PA used REAP to help finance solar panels on their farm. Photo credit: USDA.

As climate variability and energy costs continue to rise, producing on-farm, renewable energy has become an attractive option for many farmers and ranchers. In order to help farmers and ranchers save money by becoming more energy efficient, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides grants and loans to farmers and rural businesses to make energy efficiency improvements. The program also supports the purchase of wind, solar or other renewable energy systems, and provides grants to help farmers with energy audits and renewable energy development.

On Tuesday, May 10, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced 26 grants totaling more than $1.8 million to universities and energy-providing entities in 21 states. The grants are designed to help farmers and small businesses in rural America transition to renewable energy systems such as wind, solar or geothermal.

More than half of the projects (16) were awarded to recipients in Strike Force Zones, Promise Zones or areas of persistent poverty. Awards targeted in these areas will help bring new jobs in the renewable energy sector into underserved communities. Eleven projects will focus on conducting energy audits, while the remaining 15 projects will focus on developing new energy generation systems or making existing systems more efficient. Grant amounts ranged from $9,638 to $100,000.

Projects highlighted in the 2016 REAP grant recipient announcement included:

  • Saint Francis University in Loretto, PA. Saint Francis University received a $100,000 energy audit grant to provide individualized assessments for improving energy use to farmers and rural small businesses throughout Pennsylvania.
  • The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) in Athens, OH. SOPEC also received $100,000, for Renewable Energy Development Assistance to conduct solar, geothermal and anaerobic digestion site assessments.

You can learn more about the types of rural energy projects that been funded in the past here.

In addition to grants, REAP also provides loan guarantees. Since 2009, USDA has provided nearly $345 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to more than 10,000 renewable energy projects that have significantly reduced fossil fuel based energy use.


Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Grants and Programs


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