The United States Department of Agriculture invites agriculture producers and rural small businesses to submit applications to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. $51.6 million is expected to be available, with up to 1,100 awards anticipated. In addition, the USDA requests proposals for Renewable Energy Feasibility Grants. This program will provide support to farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. Six million dollars is expected to be available, and up to 150 awards are anticipated. Responses are due by the end of July for this proposal, as well. For more info, including state specific contacts, go to: www.grants.gov.
The grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Grants are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Grant requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements will be considered. At least 20% of the grant funds awarded must be for grants of $20,000 or less.
The program is designed to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses that are able to demonstrate financial need. All agricultural producers who gain 50% or more of their gross income from the agricultural operations are eligible. Small businesses that are located in a rural area can also apply. Rural electric cooperatives may also be eligible.
Most rural projects that reduce energy use and result in savings for the agricultural producer or small business are eligible as energy efficiency projects. These include projects such as retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficiency units. Eligible renewable energy projects include projects that produce energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources. The projects can produce any form of energy including, heat, electricity, or fuel.
For all projects, the system must be located in a rural area, must be technically feasible, and must be owned by the applicant. Details of the announcement can be found here.