Champaign, IL, Apr 19, 2011 -- Contact: Joan Messina (217) 403-6248
USDA Rural Development Invites Applications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects
Champaign, Ill., April. 19, 2011—Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has invited agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for loans and grants to implement renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.
"Biofuels and other renewable energy sources present an enormous economic opportunity for rural America and the rest of the nation," Vilsack said. "President Obama and I recognize that we need to win the future by implementing a long-term strategy to meet our country's current and long-term energy needs. The funding I am announcing will help make America's farmers, ranchers and rural businesses more energy efficient."
USDA is providing funding for up to $61 million in guaranteed loans and $42 million in grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Funds are available to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements and conduct studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems.
USDA recently issued a rule to clarify that the definition of renewable energy systems in REAP includes flexible fuel pumps, sometimes referred to as "blender pumps." This clarification is intended to provide fuel station owners with incentives to install flexible fuel pumps that will offer Americans more renewable energy options. The Obama Administration has set a goal of installing 10,000 flexible fuel pumps nationwide within five years.
The rule also clarifies that grants are available for audits of energy improvements and studies to determine the feasibility of renewable energy systems. Agricultural producers in non-rural areas are eligible for REAP assistance. Small businesses must still be located in rural areas. This clarification makes REAP eligibility requirements consistent with those of other USDA energy programs.
“The REAP program is helping address our energy, environmental and economic goals in rural Illinois,” said Colleen Callahan, USDA Rural Development state director in Illinois.
“We are making an important jump start toward a clean, renewable energy future that also makes us more energy independent,” Callahan said. “And we are helping our farmers and rural businesses become more energy efficient and more competitive. REAP helped 143 Illinois applicants reduce energy usage last year.”
For more information about REAP please call Molly Hammond or Mary Warren at (217) 403-6202 or visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/il.
Rural Development has more than 40 programs that foster growth and economic stability in rural areas by providing affordable financing and technical assistance. Support is available for regional food systems, broadband and biofuel infrastructure, homeownership, business development and community needs. More information on USDA Rural Development programs is available on the web at www.rurdev.usda.gov/il. USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.