Society

Applications available for rural renewable energy, efficiency grants

TEMPLE- The 2008 Farm Bill authorized the Section 9007 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) to make loan guarantees and grants to agriculture producers and rural small businesses. Renewable energy systems utilizing wind, solar, renewable biomass, geothermal, ocean, small hydropower or hydrogen sources may be purchased. Energy efficiency improvements may include retrofitting lighting or insulation, irrigation systems, grain dryers, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient units in existing or new replacement facilities. Grants to conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy are also available. Some key provisions of the program are:

• Applicants may qualify for a competitive grant, a guaranteed loan, or a combination of both.

• Gra nt reque st mu st not exceed 25% of the eligible project costs. Renewable energy grants can range from $2,500 to $500,000. Energy efficiency grants can range from $1,500 to $250,000.

• Loan guarantees can be for up to 75% of total eligible project costs. Maximum guaranteed loans are $25 million per project.

• Projects can qualify for combined grant and loan guarantee, but the grant portion is still subject to the above limits and combined funding assistance cannot exceed 75% of total eligible project costs.

• Projects under $200,000 total project costs qualify for a simplified application process.

• No renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvement, or portion thereof, can be used for any residential purpose.

"American agriculture is going through a time of enormous transformation," said Scooter Brockette, Acting State Director, USDA Rural Development. "We need to be bold in recognizing and capitalizing on new opportunities. Energy is unquestionably one of those areas that present tremendous opportunities for economic gains and ultimately an improved quality of life for rural Texans."

This program can assist agriculture producers and small rural businesses develop renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements to reduce energy costs and consumption. Agriculture producers must be directly engaged in the production of agricultural products and obtain at least 50% of their gross income from their agriculture business.

Complete applications must be received by the Texas USDA Rural Development Office, 101 South Main, Suite 102, Temple, Texas 76501 no later than 4:30 p.m. CST July 31, 2009. Neither complete nor incomplete applications received after this date and time will be considered, regardless of the postmark on the application. For further information regarding USDA Rural Development Programs, contact us at 254-742-9780 or visit our website at http://www.rurdev. usda.gov/tx/section_9007.htm.


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