Rural Energy for America program
President Obama and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack want 80% of America’s electricity to come from clean sources such as wind, solar, and natural gas by the year 2035. The USDA is providing funds for this goal through the Rural Energy for America Program, also known as REAP.
The program’s grants and loan guarantees are for farmers and ranchers, and small rural businesses looking to purchase and install renewable energy systems. Bill Menner is the USDA director for the state of Iowa. He says REAP funds can finance a variety of projects.
"If you’re driving out in a rural area and you see a brand-spanking new grain dryer, probably us," says Menner. "If you see a solitary wind turbine around a turkey farm, probably us. A solar array on a barn, probably us. You probably aren’t going to see the geo-thermal, but that’s probably us too."
Grants can be awarded to finance as much as $500,000 for renewable energy projects, $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements, or up to 25% of a project’s total cost, whichever is less. Menner says you can apply for REAP funds if you meet the eligibility requirements, and qualify as a small business according to the Small Business Association standards.
"You can be a producer, you can be a main street business. There are lots of things that you can do as a small business to become energy efficient, or incorporate renewable energy into your operation," says Menner. "This REAP program, which got a boost in the farm bill, has mandatory money. Someone’s going to spend that money and it may as well be us."
Menner encourages you to apply for the REAP funds if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Learn more about the Rural Energy for America Program
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