NSAC's Blog

$50 Million Available for Rural Energy Projects

March 19, 2018

Solar panels at Littlestown, PA Veterinary Hospital.

Solar panels at Littlestown, PA Veterinary Hospital.

Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) published a request for applications for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), a farm bill energy title program.

REAP provides two types of funding assistance:

  1. Grants and guaranteed loans for renewable energy production and energy efficiency improvements for farms and rural small businesses
  2. Grants for energy audits and renewable energy planning and development made to service providers who work with farmers and rural small businesses.

Wind, solar, biomass, digesters, hydroelectric, and geothermal are among the energy systems that can be funded by REAP.

The 2014 Farm Bill provides $50 million for REAP in fiscal year (FY) 2018. Historically, Congress has also appropriated discretionary funds for REAP in addition to direct farm bill funding; with FY 2018 appropriations legislation still under debate, it still remains to be seen if discretionary funding will be allocated. If discretionary funds are provided, USDA will need to work quickly to add the additional funds to the existing REAP pool for FY 2018. USDA estimates that they will be able to make approximately 1,000 awards in FY 2018 based on the $50 million provided by the farm bill alone.

For complete information on REAP, see the NSAC Grassroots Guide to Federal Farm and Food Programs, as well as 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, applications are due by 4:30pm on April 30, 2018. Applicants who submitted applications by the previous deadline of October 31, 2017 do not need to reapply.
  • For larger grants and for requests for a combination of a grant and a guaranteed loan, the deadline is also 4:30pm on April 30, 2018.
  • For farms and small businesses seeking a federal guarantee of a private loan (but no grant), there is a rolling deadline during which eligible applications will be reviewed and processed when received for periodic competitions.

Grants for Energy Audits and Renewable Energy Planning and Development

  • Unfortunately, for those who provide energy audit and energy development planning services, the deadline was January 31, 2018.

For detailed information about the application process, read 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.

REAP in the Upcoming Farm Bill

Since its enactment in the 2002 Farm Bill, REAP funding has been used in all 50 states to provide homegrown energy and energy savings.

In the 2014 Farm Bill, REAP received permanent baseline funding of $50 million per year, which means that that funding for the program will continue into the future even if the next farm bill reauthorization provides no new money. As debates around the upcoming farm bill continue, NSAC will be urging Congress to protect permanent baseline funding for this important program.

Categories: Conservation, Energy & Environment, Grants and Programs

3 responses to “$50 Million Available for Rural Energy Projects”

  1. […] post $50 Million Available for Rural Energy Projects appeared first on National Sustainable Agriculture […]

  2. I may not know all the facts but I strongly suspect the extremely small family farms like ours have neither the time or expertise to investigate available programs.
    I recently completed the USDA farm census and in so doing realized the programs are designed for the commodity growers not small multi-crop organic farms.
    Developing programs which address the needs of small subsistence and community farms are more critical than developing programs for thousan acre farms.

  3. Reana Kovalcik says:

    Hi Richard, there are actually tons of programs for smaller farms, and many resources out there to help you access them! I’d recommend you check out our publications page, which has a bunch of free resources that really break down how to use many of the programs that most appeal to beginning/diversified/sustainable growers. I’d also suggest reaching out to your local FSA office for direct assistance with applications/programs, if you haven’t already.