As climate and energy costs grow increasing volatile, farmers, ranchers, and rural businesses are turning their attentions toward sustainable energy production and conservation strategies. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a farm bill energy title program, facilitates this move toward greater energy sustainability by providing grants and loans to farmers and businesses for energy efficiency improvements. REAP grants can also be used to assist with the purchase of wind, solar, geothermal or other renewable energy systems, and to help farmers with energy audits and renewable energy development.
On Tuesday, October 18, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) posted its Notice of Solicitation for Applications (NOSA) for REAP for fiscal year (FY) 2017. The application cut-off dates for this NOSA range from October 31, 2016 to March 31, 2017; in limited cases the cut-off may extend to the summer of 2017. Dates and deadlines are detailed below and in the Federal Register. Please note that USDA issued a correction to the REAP Notice of Solicitations for Applications, in regards to Eligibility Information.
REAP provides two types of funding assistance:
- Grants and guaranteed loans for renewable energy production and energy efficiency improvements for farms and rural small businesses.
- Grants for energy audits and renewable energy planning and development made to service providers who work with farmers and rural small businesses.
Each year the farm bill makes available $50 million for REAP projects; this amount can either be supplemented or cut during the annual appropriations process. USDA is expected to make at least 1,000 REAP awards in FY 2017 in the form of grants, guaranteed loans, or grant/guaranteed loan combinations.
For more information on REAP, see our NSAC Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs or USDA’s REAP website.
Application and Deadlines
Grants and Guaranteed Loans for Renewable Energy Production and Energy Efficiency Improvements:
- For farms or small businesses seeking renewable energy or energy efficiency improvement grants for which the requested amount is less than $20,000, there are two batching deadlines: 4:30 pm local time on October 31, 2016 and 4:30pm local time on March 31, 2017.
- For larger grants and for requests for a combination of a grant and a guaranteed loan, the deadline is 4:30 pm local time on March 31, 2017.
- For farms and small businesses seeking a federal guarantee of a private loan but no grant, there is a rolling deadline of the first business day of each month, starting with the first month when at least eight applications have been received.
Grants for Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Planning and Development:
- For those who provide energy audit and energy development planning services, the deadline for those grants is 4:30 pm local time on January 31, 2017.
For detailed information about the application process, see the Federal Register notice or contact the USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator for your state. In some cases, applicants must submit a hard copy application to their State Energy Coordinator. In other cases, applications may be submitted online via grants.gov. All applicants must register through the System for Award Management (SAM) and must obtain a Dun and Bradstreet Universal Number System (DUNS) number.