First Round of 2014 REAP Funding Announced

May 5, 2014  – Today the USDA announced funding for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP provides grants and loan guarantees to farmer, ranchers and rural small businesses for a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. You can download the Notice of Funding Availability here

Today’s funding announcement is the first of two rounds of funding to be announced this year. The available funds are from the 2014 Congressional appropriation of $3.5 million and include an additional $24.7 million carried over from previous years for a total of $28.2 million. Later this year, the USDA will release the final REAP rule and announce the mandatory funding from the Farm Bill of $50 million. The ultimate share of this funding between grants and loan guarantees will be determined by public demand.

The USDA application deadlines follow:

Applications involving grants July 7, 2014
Guaranteed loan only applications July 31, 2014

The first step for potential applicants with project plans in hand is to contact the USDA Rural Development state energy coordinator. It is important to work with these staff, who can help applicants through the application process. However it is important to connect with your energy coordinator early in the process –and well in advance of deadlines — as they become very busy.

Due to changes in the new Farm Bill, there will be no funding for flexible fuel blender pumps or feasibility studies. Due to the late funding notice (after April 1), there will be no funding in 2014 for Energy Audits or Renewable Energy Development Assistance.  Applicants can find further tips at this story.

Editorial Note: USDA Continues Loan Guarantee Preference

The funding notice includes a number of regrettable and unneeded preferences for loan guarantees over grants that complicate the program, such as longer timelines and preferred treatment of applications. The USDA’s continuing preference for loan guarantees is quite odd given the well-established disinterest from the public in loan guarantees. Loan guarantees primarily help bankers and actually cost money to the project owner while not lower financing costs. Hopefully, the agency will drop this preference and focus on the program mission.