August 11, 2015
On August 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced $63 million in grants and loans to 264 renewable energy generation and energy conservation projects through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Projects and Funding Breakdown
Of the $63 million, USDA awarded $3.6 million as grants and $59.3 million as loan guarantees. According to the news release, “these REAP projects are expected to generate and/or save 207.8 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of energy – enough to power more than 13,600 homes for a year.” You can download the full list of REAP awards from USDA’s website.
REAP offers two types of funding: guaranteed loans and grant funding to producers and small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements; and grants to third party entities like state governments and rural electric cooperatives to conduct energy audits and provide renewable energy development assistance to small businesses and agricultural producers. Wind, solar, biomass, digesters, and geothermal are among the energy systems that can be funded by REAP. For eligibility information, visits NSAC’s Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs.
The next application deadline for REAP grants is November 2, 2015. More information regarding upcoming funding will be available soon. Until then, however, contact your state’s renewable energy coordinator to stay “plugged in.”
REAP Funding on the Chopping Block
It is not yet clear whether those who control USDA’s purse strings will allow REAP to be fully funded in the 2016 fiscal year (FY 2016). Congress is currently debating the FY 2016 agriculture appropriations bill; and the House version of the bill cuts farm bill funding for REAP by 30 percent ($15 million). Fortunately, the Senate version of the bill includes no such cuts. As the House and Senate negotiate final funding levels for FY 2016, we urge them to refrain from cutting mandatory farm bill funding for REAP.