Bozeman, MT, Mar 15, 2011 -- The USDA is seeking applications to increase the production and use of renewable energy sources in rural communities. Funding is available from three USDA Rural Development renewable energy programs authorized by the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008 (Farm Bill).
In Montana, USDA Rural Development's State Director Matthew Jones said "It is the goal of Secretary Vilsack and President Obama to spur new technology and investment in renewable energy. With that we can reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and strengthen the renewable energy industry in Montana, and the nation. With this funding, America can become more energy self-sufficient while creating good jobs in our communities."
USDA is accepting applications for loan guarantees in the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance Program, and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Details on how to apply are available in the March 11, 2011 Federal Register, page 13351.
USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program provides loan guarantees to develop and construct commercial-scale biorefineries or to retrofit existing facilities using eligible technology for the development of advanced biofuels. Under the Notice of Funds Availability (NOFA), USDA is making approximately $463 million in program level available for loan guarantees in Fiscal Year (FY) 2011. For FY 2011, there is only one round of competition. Applications must be received by May 10, 2011.
The Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels works to support and ensure an expanding production of advanced biofuels by providing payments to eligible advanced biofuels producers. USDA may fund up to $85 million under a Notice of Contract Proposal (NOCP) for Payments to Eligible Advanced Biofuel Producers in FY 2011. The deadline to apply is May 10, 2011. To be eligible for payments, advanced biofuels must be produced from renewable biomass, excluding corn kernel starch, in a biofuel facility located in a state. Details on how to apply are available in the March 11, 2011 Federal Register, page 13345.
Advanced biofuels are derived from renewable biomass to include cellulose, sugar and starch, crop residue, vegetative waste material, animal waste, food and yard waste, vegetable oil, animal fat, and biogas (including landfill gas and sewage waste treatment gas). This program is an important part of achieving the Obama administration's goal of out-building and out-innovating our global competitors by increasing biofuels production and use.
In addition, applications are being accepted for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP offers loan guarantees and grant assistance to rural small businesses and agriculture producers who are developing a renewable energy project or installing energy efficiency improvements in their existing businesses or agriculture facilities. Applications must be received by May 31, 2011 to be eligible for Montana-allocated funding through the REAP program. Nationally, additional funding is expected through a pending NOFA and will be available on a nationwide competitive basis. For application information on the Montana allocated REAP funding, please contact your nearest USDA Rural Development office or visit us online at www.rurdev.usda.gov/mt.
USDA, through its Rural Development mission area, administers and manages more than 40 housing, business and community infrastructure and facility programs through a network of national state and local offices. Agency programs are designed to improve the economic stability of rural communities, businesses, residents, farmers and ranchers and improve the quality of life in rural America. Rural Development has an existing portfolio of more than $146 billion in loans and loan guarantees.