The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Karama Neal on July 13 announced that USDA is making $21 million in technical assistance grants available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses access federal funds for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.
“The technical assistance grants I am announcing today will provide hands-on support to farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners seeking federal funds for renewable energy systems, like wind and solar, and energy efficiency measures,” Neal said in a press release. “These investments not only help producers and small businesses lower energy costs, but also access new markets and strengthen their operations.”
Eligible recipients for these grants include state, Tribal or local governments; colleges and universities; electric cooperatives and utility companies; and for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Recipients may use the funds to:
· Help rural agricultural producers and small business owners apply for REAP funding.
· Provide information on how business owners and agricultural producers can improve the energy efficiency of their operations and use renewable energy technologies and resources.
· Conduct required energy assessments and audits.
· Help agricultural producers and small business owners plan, build or develop renewable energy or energy efficiency projects.
Projects eligible for funding can be located in eligible rural areas in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and U.S. territories, USDA said.
This announcement is part of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda and the Bidenomics strategy to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, drive over $500 billion in private-sector manufacturing investments, create jobs, and build a clean-energy economy to tackle the climate crisis and make communities more resilient. REAP is also part of the Justice40 Initiative, which is advancing environmental justice by ensuring that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments reach disadvantaged communities that are marginalized and overburdened by pollution and underinvestment.
USDA said it will “give funding priority to applicants proposing to assist disadvantaged communities, applicants pursuing projects using underutilized technologies and applicants seeking grants under $20,000.”
The Department also encourages interested applicants to contact their USDA Rural Development state office.
For this round of REAP funding, paper or electronic applications must be received by the USDA RD State Office (RDSO) of the State where the project is located to be eligible for funding under this grant opportunity by Aug. 15.
For additional information, see the July 13 Federal Register notice.