USDA announces REAP funding

By Erin Voegele | August 15, 2013

On Aug. 15, the USDA awarded more than $21 million in grant and loan funding to 631 projects under the Rural Energy for America Program. The funding will help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce their energy consumption and costs, use renewable energy technologies in their operations, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects.

"As part of the Obama Administration's 'all-of-the-above' energy strategy, USDA continues to work with America's farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to help them save energy and improve their bottom line," said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. "This program and others like it would not be available without a Food, Farm and Jobs Bill, and again I urge members of Congress to pass a bill when they return to Washington next month."

During a press conference to announce the funding, Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development Doug O’Brien spoke about the history of the REAP program and its benefits. The program was first created in 2002, and revamped and provided with significant resources as part of the 2008 Farm Bill. Funds awarded under the program can be used to install a wide variety of renewable energy technologies, including biomass, wind, solar, geothermal, hydro, and renewable hydrogen from biomass or water.

“It’s a broad-based all of the above renewable energy type of program,” O’Brien said. “Awards are made on a competitive basis to purchase renewable energy systems and to make energy efficiency improvements.” Some examples of eligible projects highlighted by O’Brien include the replacement of diesel irrigation motors, upgrading poultry house with lighting, ventilation and insulation, the installation renewable heating systems, improving HVAC systems, and more efficient windows for rural small businesses. “REAP loans and grants also fund energy audits and feasibility studies for renewable energy systems,” he continued.

Over the last four years, O’Brien noted that the program has awarded nearly 7,000 projects approximately $220 million in grants and $180 million in loan guarantees. In 2012 alone, 872 projects were awarded $35 million in funding.

At the end of the day, the REAP program means a better bottom line for awardees because energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements reduce the cost of energy, O’Brien said.

Ethanol-related projects awarded under this round of funding include:

RYARAI LLC: $49,999 grant to support the installation of two flexible fuel pumps (Nebraska)

Tom’s Service LLC: $33,225 grant to support the installation of a flexible fuel pump (Nebraska)

Governor’s Gas LLC: $18,276 grant to support the purchase and installation of two flexible blender pump (South Dakota)

Hutchinson Co-Op: $7,489 grant to support the installation of a blender pump to dispense various grades of ethanol, and to help farmers, ranchers and small businesses develop renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements (Minnesota)