USDA opens funding opportunity for REAP

By Erin Voegele | April 04, 2013

The USDA has published a notice of funding availability for the Rural Energy for America Program for fiscal year 2013. The program provides financial assistance in the form of grants, guaranteed loans, and combined grants and guaranteed loans for the development and construction of renewable energy system and energy efficiency projects. It also provides grant funding for conducting renewable energy feasibility studies. 

According to information published by the USDA in the Federal Register, there is up to $20.8 million available for fiscal year 2013 awards, which is enough to support up to $10.4 million in grants and $43.4 million in loan guarantees.

Information posted to the USDA website specifies that there are two technology categories eligible for the funding: renewable energy projects and energy efficiency improvement projects. The renewable energy category includes biomass and bioenergy projects, including those that produce liquid biofuels and those that produce electric power. Biomass and anaerobic digestion projects that produce thermal energy or electric power are also eligible. The program also allows funding for retail flexible fuel pumps, such as those commonly used to dispense ethanol blends.

The Renewable Fuels Association has released a statement calling the funding opportunity for blender pumps welcome news to the Blend Your Own (BYO) Ethanol campaign, a joint educational effort by the American Coalition for Ethanol and the RFA. The campaign is offering free grant writing services to those interesting in applying for flex fuel pump funding.

“This program provided funding for hundreds of blender pumps the past two years, providing many consumers with the choice and flexibility they deserve to pick the ethanol blends that work for them based on their vehicle, their beliefs, and their budget,” said RFA Director of Market Development Robert White. “Through the BYO Ethanol Campaign, we have the ability to assist retailers in applying for these funds and help USDA and the Obama Administration achieve the renewable fuel goals they have put forward. This year retailers have more options than ever with E15; these blender pumps will help spread this new blend across the country.”

“We can continue to break the stranglehold oil has over our nation’s economy and energy future by giving consumers more options at the pump,” said ACE Senior Vice President Ron Lamberty. “The USDA’s announcement together with the efforts of the BYO ethanol campaign will go a long way toward making that happen.”

Applications for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement grants and combination grant and loan guarantees are due April 30. Applications for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees are accepted on a continuous basis through July 15. Renewable energy system feasibility applications are also due April 30.