USDA invites applications for renewable energy funding
help increase production and use of renewable energy, create jobs,
and protect natural resources
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[May 07, 2010]
WASHINGTON -- Agriculture Secretary Tom
Vilsack announced that USDA is seeking applications to increase the
production and use of renewable energy sources. Funding is available
from four USDA Rural Development renewable energy programs
authorized by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 (farm
"This funding will help spur investments in technologies that will
reduce reliance on fossil fuels, conserve natural resources and help
build a sustained renewable energy industry in rural America," Vilsack said. "Support provided by USDA through these programs will
not only benefit the environment, it will create green jobs and help
America become more energy self-sufficient."
USDA is accepting applications for grants and loan guarantees in
the Rural Energy for America Program until June 30. More information
on how to apply for funding is available in the April 26 Federal
Register. The Rural Energy for America Program provides funds to
agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and
install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency
Eligible projects include installing renewable energy systems
such as wind turbines, anaerobic digesters, solar, geothermal,
biomass, hydroelectric, ocean or hydrogen systems. Funding may also
be used to purchase energy-efficient equipment, add insulation, and
improve heating and cooling systems. Last year, 88 agricultural
producers and small-business owners in Illinois received grants and
loans for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Independent energy audits showed that the selected applicants would
save between 20 percent and 74 percent in energy usage.
For example, in 2009 Wayne-White Counties Electric Cooperative
received a grant to install a geothermal heating and cooling system
for the cooperative's office building. The new system is expected to
replace 74 percent of their energy usage. Last year 83 producers
used the funding to upgrade to more efficient grain drying systems.
"The Rural Energy for America Program helps to cut energy costs
for agriculture and small-business operations and supports the
development and use of renewable energy systems," said Colleen
Callahan, Illinois state director for Rural Development. "Both of
those purposes are important for the growth of our rural economy."
In addition to the REAP program, Vilsack announced that USDA is
planning to accept applications for three other renewable energy
programs: the Biorefinery Assistance Program, Repowering Assistance
Program and the Bioenergy Program for Advanced Biofuels. Details on
how to apply are available in the May 6 Federal Register.
- USDA's Biorefinery Assistance Program provides guaranteed
loans to develop and construct commercial-scale biorefineries or
to retrofit existing facilities, using eligible technology for
the development of advanced biofuels. The amount of a loan
guaranteed for a project under this program cannot exceed 80
percent of total eligible project costs.
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Assistance Program is designed to encourage the use of renewable
biomass as a replacement fuel source for fossil fuels used to
provide process heat or power in the operation of eligible
biorefineries -- those in existence on June 18, 2008, the date
the 2008 Farm Bill was enacted.
Program for Advanced Biofuels works to support and ensure
expanding production of advanced biofuels by providing payments
to eligible advanced biofuels producers. Advanced biofuels are
derived from renewable biomass, other than corn kernel starch.
These include cellulose, sugar and starch, crop residue,
vegetative waste material, animal waste, food and yard waste,
vegetable oil, animal fat, and biogas, including landfill gas
and sewage waste treatment gas. This program is an important
part of achieving the Obama administration's goal to increase
biofuels production and use.
Rural Development provides financing and technical assistance to
foster growth in homeownership, business development, and critical
community and technology infrastructure. More information on USDA
Rural Development in Illinois is available on the Web at
[Text from file received from
USDA Rural Development in