Rural Areas Benefit from new REAP Awards

The USDA announced another round of awards for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in mid-July, bringing benefits to 56 states and territories and to a wide range of agricultural sectors. REAP continues to help reduce costs, protect and increase jobs and to produce homegrown clean energy.

Flagshooter hybrid wind/ solar project.The July 2016 round of awards reflect broad interest in cutting energy costs with energy efficiency, the highest number and dollar value of grants. There were 470 awards for a total of $6.5 million in grants.

In this round we saw more diversity of energy efficiency grants than in the past. Lighting projects have increased as LED lighting offers significant electricity and cost savings. Efficient Grain dryers continue to receive incentives while not being as dominant as in the past. The maple syrup industry continues to use REAP to adopt reverse osmosis as an alternative to time-intensive sap boiling.

Solar energy in rural settings continues to grow strongly with REAP with 337 awards (including hybrid technology projects) for $5 million. These projects are very diverse geographically, covering nearly all the states. They are also diverse in size, ranging from about $3,000 to $250,000. The average solar awards was $15,000.

Wind power continues to receive flagging support from REAP with only two awards for $40,000 total in this round. There were also two hybrid wind/solar projects. Small wind power is struggling to compete generally as solar costs continue to fall significantly.

The award list can be found here. More award announcements will be issued in coming months.

REAP has benefited over 11,000 rural small businesses and agricultural producers in every state since 2009. The program is heavily over-subscribed with applications outstripping the funding that was reduced in the 2014 FarmBill.