For agricultural producers and rural business owners interested in making the shift to renewable energy, the time is now to apply for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development, the program provides funding through grants and guaranteed loans for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. The application deadline is March 31.
“This year, REAP received an additional $250 million from the Inflation Reduction Act, for a program total of $300 million,” said Kalee Olson, policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs. “This increase translates to more opportunities for renewable energy projects across rural America.”
REAP funding is available for a wide range of projects, from installing solar panels to updating HVAC systems and insulation. To be eligible, farmers and ranchers must show that more than 50%of their annual gross income is generated by their agricultural operation. Businesses must be located in a rural area, defined as having a population of 50,000 people or less.
Grants may cover up to 40% of eligible project costs, and guaranteed loans may cover up to 75%. Grant and loan funding may also be combined for up to 75% of eligible expenses.
“The benefits of receiving REAP funding are two-fold,” Olson said. “In addition to the financial assistance provided by the program, new or improved energy systems have the potential to save producers and business owners money over time.”
For more information about REAP or for help applying, contact your state’s rural development energy coordinator.