USDA makes up to $70M available for rural projects

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The Agriculture Department today opened up to $70 million for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on rural lands.

USDA said that up to $12.3 million will be available for grants and $57.8 available for loan guarantees. Both grants and loans will be administered through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program, a farm bill program that was renewed in the recently passed 2014 Agricultural Act.USDA uses REAP to fund a variety of energy projects on farms and at rural businesses, such as the installation of solar panels, wind turbines and more efficient heating systems. In 2013, USDA funded 2,400 projects in rural areas, Kelley Oehler, a branch chief in USDA’s Rural Development office, said in a conference call last month (E&ENews PM, April 2).

“This funding will help farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement