Rural Americans with an eye for renewable energy recently received promising news—the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $464 million in solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects benefiting small businesses and farming operations.
Of the total investment, more than $128 million will be distributed through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Designed specifically for agricultural producers and rural small businesses, REAP provides loan and grant funding for these entities to invest in renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.
The span of projects funded by REAP sheds a light on the diversity of rural communities and the products and services they contribute to the economy. In addition, the range of funding levels makes it clear that all renewable energy efforts are worth the investment, including projects that benefit niche farms and main street businesses in small towns. Of the total funding, approximately $121 million will be distributed via loans and $7 million via grants.
REAP is more than an opportunity for rural Americans to take part in the march toward a renewable future; it’s a smart business decision for a farm or small business. The improvements made will save the majority of recipients thousands of dollars over the course of a few years. With less money put toward energy costs, producers and small business owners are free to invest that money back into their operations or rural communities.
Farmers, ranchers, and rural small business owners interested in applying for REAP should contact their state rural development energy coordinator. The deadline to apply is Nov. 1.