REAP Grants for Energy Audits & Renewable Energy Development
On May 10th, 2016 the USDA announced the award of 26 grants, totaling nearly $2 million, to provide help to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to find ways to conserve energy and develop renewable energy systems.
The REAP grants (pdf) were awarded to universities and state and local governments to provide energy audits and renewable energy development assistance to agricultural producers and rural small businesses. The services help these firms to invest wisely to cut energy waste and to find ways to generate renewable energy.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, “Nationwide, Americans are lowering their carbon footprint and energy bills by being more energy efficient and switching to renewable energy, and USDA investments make more of these options available. The Rural Energy for America Program also helps businesses create jobs in their communities through the development and installation of energy efficiency and generation projects.”
The 2014 Farm Bill allowed resource conservation and development districts (RC&Ds) to receive these grants. RC&Ds are regional groups created decades ago to provide direct assistance to farmers for conservation and other activities. Congress cut all funding to them in 2011 and many are struggling or are now defunct.
REAP provides grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, grants for energy audits, and grants for renewable energy planning and development to service providers who work with farmers and rural small businesses. Thanks to investments like these, enough renewable energy has been produced to power more than 959,000 American homes annually, or more than 10.4 billion kWh worth of electricity. In addition, USDA has provided almost $345 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small business owners from 2009 to 2015.
The list of award recipients is available here.