Rural Energy for America Program: Renewable Energy for Your Farm, Ranch or Rural Small Business

Examples | How Does it Work?| Resources | Learn More

This page provides resources for farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners who want to install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements to their rural business.

The Rural Energy for America Program provides grants and guaranteed loans to help farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

 

Examples

 

Examples of energy efficiency projects include retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient equipment.

Examples of renewable energy projects include wind, solar, biomass, hydro-power and hydrogen-based sources. The projects can produce any form of energy, including heat, electricity or fuels.

 

How Does it Work?

 

A rural small business must meet the Small Business Administration's small business size standards.

Agricultural producers must obtain at least 50% or greater of their gross income from their agriculture business.

More details on the program grants:

  • Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25% of total project costs. Grants are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.
  • Grant requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements will be considered.
  • Direct cost share grants must account for only 25% of the cost of the project.
  • The program is only available for folks who are able to demonstrate financial need.
  • The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) can fund up to 25% of your project with grant funds. If you later decide to include loans, it can cover up to 75% (25% grant, 50% guaranteed loan) under the REAP.
  • 100% of your project could be covered if you couple the REAP with the Business and Industry Loan Guarantee program. (E.g., 75% B&I guaranteed loan and a 25% REAP grant).

Ready to apply? Contact your state rural development office. Find the contact information at this Web site.

 

Resources

 

Energy Resources for Farmers & Ranchers - There are many resources for farmers and ranchers interested in renewable energy. This page shares links, organized by type. Look around and let us know what you're looking for. Check back often to see new items added.

Small Farm Energy Primer - Originally published by the Center for Rural Affairs in 1980, this is a tool to assist small farmers in lowering their energy costs. Solar collectors, wind generators, ethanol stills, organic farming, and energy conservation - saving money on energy is again a hot topic among farmers.

Wind Turbine Considerations: Energy Conservation, Profitability and Ownership - Folks in the Midwest know about wind and how much it blows. Because energy costs are rising, many look to wind to relieve or reduce their energy bills. Energy can be harvested from the wind, but a cheaper, quicker, and more effective way to cut costs may be to first cut energy use. This is especially true for those who want to go “off grid” and supply all their own electricity.

Irrigation Efficiency - Most irrigation systems are not as efficient as they should be. For example, a study in Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, and other states found that, on average, about 25 percent of the electrical energy used for irrigation pumping was being wasted due to poor pump and motor efficiency.

 

Learn More

 

Contact Virginia Meyer at 402-687-2103 ext 1014 or virginiam@cfra.org.

Photo credits: Top photo from the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy.

Middle photo from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Bottom photo, gated pipe irrigation on mountain pasture, Fremont County, Wyoming. 2002. Photo by Jeff Vanuga, USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.