The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the opening of applications for $1 billion in grants to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses invest in renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. This funding is available under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), backed by President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act, the largest-ever investment in combatting the climate crisis in the country.
The REAP grants are available to rural small businesses and agricultural producers. USDA will hold competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024. To ensure that small projects have a fair opportunity to compete for funding, USDA will set aside at least 20% of the available funds until June 30 each year for grant requests of $20,000 or less. This includes the grant portion of a combined grant and guaranteed loan request.
The maximum federal share for renewable energy systems and energy-efficiency projects is up to 50% of the total project cost. All other projects are eligible for grants of up to 25% of the total cost. The maximum grant for renewable energy systems is $1 million; for energy-efficiency projects, it is $500,000. This funding will enable rural small businesses and agricultural producers to invest in renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements. This will help combat the climate crisis while providing economic opportunities for rural communities. USDA’s REAP program is essential in achieving the Biden administration’s goal of reaching net-zero emissions by 2050.
Renewable Energy Gains Traction in U.S. Farms
U.S. farms are increasingly turning to renewable energy sources to power their operations. The use of solar panels, wind turbines, and bioenergy systems is becoming more popular as farmers seek to reduce their carbon footprint and energy costs. According to a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, nearly 40% of all land in the United States is used for agriculture, making it an ideal sector to promote clean energy. The report found that renewable energy sources could save farmers $1 billion annually. Additionally, producing renewable energy on farms could provide a new source of income for farmers, as they could sell excess energy back to the grid. With the availability of grants and incentives from the government, more farmers are expected to adopt renewable energy solutions in the coming years.
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