Applications Now Open for Rural Renewable Energy Projects
As climate variability increases and energy costs continue to rise, producing on-farm, renewable energy has become an attractive option for many farmers and ranchers. In order to help farmers and ranchers save money and utilize renewable energy, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides grants and loans to farmers and rural businesses interested in making energy efficiency improvements. The program also supports the purchase of wind, solar or other renewable energy systems, and provides grants to help farmers with energy audits and renewable energy development.
Renewable Energy Funding Available
At the end of August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of at least $50 million in grant funding to support on-farm renewable energy projects for the coming fiscal year (FY). Publishing a Request for Applications (RFA) for FY 2020 is a slightly unconventional move, because the 2020 fiscal year does not begin until October 1, 2019, and funding levels for the next fiscal year have not yet been finalized by Congress. However, USDA has stated that the reason for publishing the RFA early is to allow prospective applicants more time to develop and submit applications. Likewise, the early application release will give USDA staff additional time to process submitted applications.
How much funding will ultimately be available for FY 2020 is currently unknown. The 2018 Farm Bill provides the program with $50 million per year in mandatory funding, however, annual appropriations bills have routinely provided REAP with additional discretionary funds. The FY 2020 appropriations package is still under debate in Congress, and a short-term Continuing Resolution is becoming increasingly likely. USDA states in the REAP RFA that they will announce any funding received for the program in a continuing resolution or final appropriations package at this website.