USDA Announces Rural Renewable Energy Assistance

November 16, 2011

Photo of a row of large wind turbines in a field.

USDA is supporting various renewable energy sources including wind energy.
Credit: Todd Spink

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on November 10 that it had funded 67 projects nationwide to provide renewable energy assessments. Those projects focus on helping rural agricultural producers reduce energy consumption, use renewable energy technologies, and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy projects. Funding is made available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). And on November 9, the agency announced that it is supporting projects to harness wind, solar, geothermal, and hydroelectric power to reduce energy costs for farms and small business across the rural United States.

USDA awarded more than $2.4 million in grants for energy assessments and more than $1.2 million to support feasibility study projects in 28 states and Puerto Rico. For example, USDA picked the West Virginia Division of Energy to receive funding to complete 130 energy assessments for rural small businesses to help them reduce energy use and operating costs. And Boise State University is receiving a grant to offer energy savings information and energy assessments to more than 1,500 manufacturing-related agricultural producers and small business in Idaho. See the USDA press release and the REAP website.

USDA funding for renewable energy projects made through REAP is contingent on the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant or loan agreement. REAP grants can finance up to 25 % of a project's cost, up to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Projects are in 16 states. For example, USDA will assist Hawkeye Tri-County Electric Cooperative in Cresco, Iowa, to install a geothermal heating and cooling system in its headquarters building. And, Putnam Green Power in Connecticut will get a grant for hydroelectric power. See the USDA press release.