Trump Budget Eviscerates Rural Clean Energy Programs

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

On May 23, 2017, the White House released their recommended fiscal year 2018 budget, reflecting their priorities and policies for the nation. And the message clearly states they do not support farm-based clean energy production as a way to invest in rural America. This budget would unravel the legislative deal struck in the 2014 Farm Bill.

The Trump budget eliminated funding for the most effective programs of the Farm Bill Energy Title. Additionally, for several programs the budget eliminated funding that had been carried forward from previous years, which means they went beyond cutting annual funding to even eliminate residual funds.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has supported over 15,000 energy saving and clean energy producing projects in rural areas in every state. The 2014 Farm Bill provided mandatory funding of $50 million per year. The Trump budget would eliminate all of that funding, and also remove $8 million carried forward from previous years, essentially killing REAP.

The Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program provides loan guarantees for plants that can use agricultural residues and other forms of biomass to produce a range of energy and non-energy projects. The Trump budget claws back the $175 million in accumulated program funding.

The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) would be get the same treatment as in previous years – capped at $3 million.

A statement from the Chairs of House and Senate Agriculture Committees indicate they will pursue a more independent path on appropriations, though they did not specifically mention energy programs.

The following chart provides an over view of changes. Note that the negative numbers mean mandatory funding would be eliminated and reserve funds would be taken away.

President’s FY2018 Farm Bill -Clean Energy Programs with mandatory funding
Section Section name 2018 Mandatory President’s 2018 Request
9002 Biobased Markets 5  No change
9003 Biorefinery Assistance Program  $           –  $    (175.0)
9004 Repowering Assistance Program  $           –  No change
9005 Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels  $        15.0  No change
9006 Biodiesel Fuel Education Program  $         1.0  No change
9007 Rural Energy for America Program  $        50.0  $        (8.0)
9010 Biomass Crop Assistance Program  $        25.0  $         3.0

 

Explanation of appropriations terms

Mandatory funding — The amount authorized in the five-year Farm Bill by Congress is available unless limited to smaller amounts in the annual appropriations process; if appropriators do not act, the amount that was authorized is provided to the program.

Discretionary funding – Programs that require annual funding to be passed by the Appropriations Committees.

 

 

New REAP Funds for FY2017 Now Available

Friday, October 28th, 2016

(October 18, 2016) The USDA released a notice of solicitation of applications (NOSA) for the Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). The funding notice for fiscal year 2017 provides guidance for applicants including to online resources at FarmEnergy.org and from the USDA.

This notice includes grants and loan guarantees for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Eligible recipients for these projects include agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Residences are not included.

Awards are made on a competitive basis, as determined by the point scoring system also described in the NOSA. Applications can be submitted at any time but the following deadlines apply:

(more…)

Rural Areas Benefit from new REAP Awards

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

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. (more…)

Farm Bill Clean Energy Programs Funded for 2016

Monday, January 4th, 2016

The dust has settled on funding the government for fiscal year 2016, which began on October 1, 2015. After protracted discussions, an omnibus bill was passed that continues funding for key Farm Bill clean energy programs, with some funding reductions.

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP, Section 9007) is the cornerstone of the Farm Bill’s energy title. The House-passed appropriations measure would have reduced REAP mandatory funding by 28%, from $50 million to $35.8 million. The Senate measure maintained mandatory funding and added $.5 million in discretionary funding, restricted to loan guarantees.

The Omnibus included the Senate measure and REAP funding was preserved for 2016.

For other programs, the news was mixed: (more…)

Coop Tools to Advance Energy Efficiency and Renewables

Friday, April 10th, 2015

ELPC cosponsored a webinar recently highlighting how Rural Electric Cooperatives can develop renewable energy and energy efficiency to improve environmental stewardship while lowering energy costs. The webinar discussed federal resources that can support coop efforts for clean energy.

Agenda:

  • Energy Efficiency Conservation Loan Program, John-Michael Cross, Environmental and Energy Study Institute
  • Rural Energy for America Program for Cooperatives – Andy Olsen, Environmental Law & Policy Center
  • Discussion with participants

Jointly presented by Environmental Law & Policy Center and Clean Energy Ambassadors. You can also watch a recording of the webinar at the Clean Energy Ambassadors page.

 

“REAP Round-Up” Training Webinars Available

Tuesday, February 17th, 2015

(February 13, 2015) The USDA has planned training webinars and provided a number of tools for applicants to access the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). These are all helpful given the recent overhaul of the program. (more…)