USDA solicits REAP applications for fiscal year 2020 funding

By Erin Voegele | September 06, 2019

The USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service announced Aug. 30 it is seeking applications for fiscal year 2020 funding under the Rural Energy for America Program, which helps agriculture producers and rural small businesses make renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements.

The REAP program was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. The program provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements to their operations. Eligible renewable energy systems include renewable biomass, including anaerobic digesters, wind, solar, small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal or hydrogen derived from any of these renewable resources. REAP also provides grants to state, tribal or local governments; institutions of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; public power entities; and councils to support the establishment of programs to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the potential to incorporate energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies into their operations.

The USDA said the notice soliciting applications for the REAP program is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act in order to allow potential applicants time to submit applications for the program and give the agency time to process applications within the current fiscal year. The agency said it will publish the amount of fiscal year 2020 funding received in a continuing resolution or final appropriations act on its website.

The solicitation encourages REAP applications that will support recommendations made in the Rural Prosperity Task Force report to help improve life in rural America. This includes projects that will achieve e-connectivity for rural America, develop the rural economy, harness technological innovation, support a rural workforce, and improve quality of life.

The deadline to apply for renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants is Oct. 31. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. The deadline to apply for energy audit and development assistance grants is Jan. 31, 2020.

A full copy of the notice is available on the Federal Register website.