USDA makes 2012 REAP funding available

By Anna Austin | January 23, 2012

The USDA announced Jan. 20 a Notice of Funding Availability for its Rural Energy for America Program, and is inviting agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply.

REAP, which was authorized through the 2008 Farm Bill, has three components: grants for energy audits and developments; feasibility grants; and a guaranteed loan program. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25 percent of total eligible project costs, but cannot exceed $500,000 for renewable energy systems, $250,000 for energy efficiency and up to $50,000 for renewable energy feasibility studies.

According to the NOFA published in the Federal Register, USDA has a $25.4 million budget authority available to fund REAP activities, with just under $60 million in actual REAP funding. At least $12.5 will be allotted to the grant program, and about $48.5 million to the guaranteed loan program.

Last year, the program assisted 280 renewable energy and energy efficiency measures with a $103 million budget. Nearly $21 million went to bio-digester projects, and $7 million to biomass energy projects.

REAP renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications are due March 30, as are renewable energy system feasibility study applications. Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement guaranteed loan only applications are due June 29, and energy audits and renewable energy development assistance applications will be accepted through Feb. 21.

Application materials can be obtained by contacting a rural development energy coordinator, and electronic grant applications can be downloaded at