Tag Archives: Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Ag groups recommend USDA use pilot projects to build a carbon bank

AgDaily

The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance, which includes 70 agriculture organizations, has worked over the past three months to develop specific recommendations for how the U.S. Department of Agriculture should approach a potential carbon bank. FACA began sharing those recommendations with USDA and Congress.

A voluntary, USDA-led carbon bank is one policy mechanism being considered to help reduce barriers that producers and landowners face to participating in voluntary carbon markets and adopting climate-smart practices. FACA recommends that USDA lay the foundation for a potential carbon bank by first developing a series of pilot projects that would focus on the following four areas: Continue reading here.

USDA INVESTS IN RESEARCH INNOVATIONS

USDA Invests $21.7M in Research Innovations to Improve Soil Health and Climate Smart Agriculture and Forestry

WASHINGTON, April 21, 2021 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) will invest at least $21.7 million in several key programs to help agricultural producers manage the impacts of climate change on their lands and production. NIFA awarded $6.3 million for 14 Soil Health grants and $5.4 million for seven Signals in the Soil grants through its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI). NIFA also is investing at least $10 million this year in a new AFRI program area priority called, “Extension, Education, and USDA Climate Hub Partnerships,” to train the next generation of agriculturalists and foresters to incorporate climate change research into their management practices.

About USDA’s Northern Plains Climate Hub
The Northern Plains Hub serves Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. The Hub delivers science-based knowledge, practical information, management & conservation strategies, and decision tools to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the goal of helping them adapt to weather variability and changing climatic conditions. See::Topics

MORE NEWS RELEASES: USDA RURAL DEVELOPMENT / NEBRASKA 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Climate Bill Would Expand USDA Stewardship Program

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

The USDA would double the size of the Conservation Reserve, the government’s largest land-idling program, as part of supporting land stewardship on 100 million acres of farmland under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Monday. Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the sponsors, compared the legislation to New Deal programs to help farmers and combat soil loss during the Dust Bowl.

“The Climate Stewardship Act is a critical investment to seriously engage farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the solution to climate change,” said Booker, who filed a version of the bill in 2019. Spanberger, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee on conservation, said she was “committed to finding new ways to both protect the health of our soil and benefit farmers’ bottom lines.” Continue reading here.

The Climate Stewardship Act (PDF)

Sec.108 Rural Energy for America Program

  • Increases funding from $50M to $3 billion per year to provide grants and loan guarantees for tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to expand renewable energy production and make energy efficiency improvements.
  • Gives funding priority to solar projects that include pollinator habitat.
  • Sets aside 5% of the additional funding for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • Sets aside 5% of the funding for new and beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA Agency Launches New Site for Science-Minded Students, USDA News Release

AgLab, a new science-education website operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, is now “open for business” to students and educators alike. 

Geared toward K-12 students with an interest in food and science, AgLab offers a variety of content to promote a greater understanding of how agricultural research is helping meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel needs of a growing world population while also safeguarding our environment and natural resources.

Solar energy is better for the environment and your pockets

By Alyssa Curtis, KMTV

BELLEVUE – The country’s largest renewable energy event is being held this week. National Solar Tours is an opportunity for people around the country to learn about making the switch to solar energy from their neighbors. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Part of the National Solar Tour: Don Preister’s home in Bellevue with solar + a geothermal heat pump.
Solar Installation: 8.4-kilowatt, grid-tied, OPPD net-metered system, ground mounted on south-facing slope with no battery storage (yet) and 28 optimizers. Installation was completed in December 2016, with enough capacity for all electrical needs in an all-electric residence of 2000 square feet. There is extra capacity to charge his electric vehicle.
Photo Credit: Eugene Curtin / Bellevue Leader
Installer: Solar Heat & Electric with help from the Preister brothers

Are you installing solar for your home or business? See Links to Incentives, Depreciation and Net Metering

MISSOURI REAP PROJECTS

Missouri Farmers Increasingly Look To Solar To Power Their Operations, KCUR Here and Now Story by Jonathan Ahl, Harvest Public Radio

Chris Bohr’s farm in Martinsburg, Missouri, has hundreds of acres of soybeans and corn. It also has a 5,000 head hog barn that requires a lot of electricity to power its ventilation system, cooling fans and lights. About fifty yards away from the barn are three rows of solar panels. Bohr is among a growing number of farmers that are generating solar power to meet their needs. Bohr received a Rural Energy for America Program, or REAP, grant from the United States Department of Agriculture to help pay for his solar panels. And the number of farmers applying for the grants is going up.

PV MAGAZINE ARTICLES

FROM ENERGY NEWS NETWORK

Grid congestion a growing barrier for wind, solar developers in MISO territory, Energy News Network
A recent analysis found 245 clean energy projects that were withdrawn during the advanced stages of development, with many blaming a lack of transmission capacity.

NEW WOODMAC REPORT

Global Energy Storage Capacity to Hit 741GWh by 2030, Greentech Media
The U.S. will account for half of the world’s installed energy storage capacity by the end of the decade. Global energy storage capacity is now expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 31 percent through 2030, according to Wood Mackenzie’s new global storage outlook.

COMMUNITY STORAGE

SMUD’s Energy StorageShares program: The first virtual energy storage program in the US, Renewable Energy World

SMUD’s innovative Energy StorageShares program is the first virtual energy storage program in the US. StorageShares allows SMUD’s commercial customers to invest in an off-site battery storage system and enjoy energy cost savings without siting batteries at their facilities. In this newly launched pilot program, eligible commercial customers make an up-front payment to SMUD for program participation; in exchange, they receive a monthly on-bill credit. SMUD bundles the investments from program participants with its own capital, procures a battery, and installs it in a location that optimizes grid benefits.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY RENEWABLE ENERGY WORLD

NEBRASKA CLIMATE CHANGE STORIES

These stories were developed as part of a yearlong UNL College of Journalism and Mass Communications depth-reporting project examining the impact of climate change on Nebraska. To learn more, visit: climatechangenebraska.com

SOLAR ACCESS IN HISPANIC COMMUNITIES

Investing in equitable access to solar energy for Hispanic communities, PV Magazine article contributed by Javiar Chacon, a Customer Analyst on the SREC Operations team at Sol Systems, where he works closely with customers to help mint their SRECs.

As one of the fastest growing American communities, the Hispanic population has been historically underrepresented in solar energy. The barriers that have excluded Hispanic people from solar, however, are not permanent and work can be done to ensure an equitable energy transition.

HDR & LANDFILL SOLAR 

Rethinking post-closure landfill care, Waste Today Magazine
HDR Inc., Omaha, Nebraska, has been supporting municipal and private solid waste clients for over 40 years with the planning, permitting and construction of secure solid waste landfills across the U.S. Of HDR’s beneficial use projects, one of the company’s most reputable post-closure developments is the Hickory Ridge Landfill in Atlanta. In 2010, HDR utilized a new exposed geomembrane solar cap technology to transform the landfill into the largest solar energy-generating facility in Georgia.

According to the company, it is the world’s largest solar energy cap and the first use of the technology as part of a fully permitted landfill final closure system. Utilizing over 7,000 solar panels to convert sunlight into more than 1 megawatt of clean, renewable electricity, the new technology essentially takes a durable, high-strength geomembrane material made for outdoor exposure on roofs and secures it to the landfill like a bedsheet through the use of vertical anchor trenches.

Behind Microsoft’s bold plan to build social equity into clean energy buying

By Heather Clancy, Editorial Director, GreenBiz Group

There were plenty of juicy news tidbits in Microsoft’s recent progress report about its goal to become carbon negative over the next decade. But its new goal to link at least 500 megawatts of forthcoming solar energy contracts to environmental justice considerations is bold for many reasons

“We spend a lot of time talking about the energy transition needed if our society is going to transition to a net-zero economy by 2050,” Microsoft’s environment chief, Lucas Joppa, told me. “Microsoft’s position is that the transition has to be an inclusive and just one.” The arrangement, with project financer, investor and developer Sol Systems, will prioritize opportunities and investments in communities “disproportionately affected by environmental challenges.” What does that mean more specifically?  Read more here.

Photo by SolSystems: SolSystem’s 196-kilowatt solar installation at Christ Church apartments, a low-to-moderate income senior living facility located on the Baltimore Harbor. 

Additional Recommended Reading: Sol Systems Announces Groundbreaking Solar Power Community Investment Agreement with Microsoft, News Release by The Sol Systems Team

SOLAR-POWERED FARMS

Farmers Increasingly Look To Solar To Power Their Operations, by Jonathan Ahl, High Plains Public Radio. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) has $250 million available for renewable energy. They fund small projects where a farmer has to pay at least 75% of the total cost.  

Nebraska USDA Rural Development Energy Coordinator
Jeff Carpenter, 100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308, Lincoln, NE 68508
Telephone: (402) 437-5554 / Email: jeff.carpenter@usda.gov  / Website 

RE100

First Solar Commits to Powering 100% of Global Operations with Renewable Energy by 2028, Globe Newswire. America’s largest solar company joins RE100, pledges to power U.S. operations with renewable energy by 2026. With over 1GW of corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed, First Solar is an industry leader in corporate solar. Its track record includes projects to support the decarbonization efforts of RE100 members such as AppleFacebookKellogg’s, and Microsoft.

RENEWABLE DENVER INITIATIVE

Denver looks to install 15 MW of community solar gardens, Solar Power World
The project is part of the Renewable Denver Initiative, which is supported by a $1 million grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. As part of the initiative, the project will help the city move closer to reaching the goals set in its 100% Renewable Electricity Action Plan, while expanding the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy to more members of the community.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Is renewable hydrogen set to revolutionize the grid?, E&E News
Hydrogen has long been made in the United States at scale by steam-reforming natural gas or coal. Bringing low-carbon hydrogen to cost parity with those types by 2023, as Morgan Stanley projects, would exceed the overall hydrogen industry’s estimates by several years. The bank’s optimism reflects the mood of other energy analysts, who point to the outlays in European stimulus packages and a growing number of proposed projects worldwide in saying that the timeline for cheap green hydrogen could be closer than many assume.

Additional Recommended Reading: DOE News Release: Energy Department Announces Approximately $64M in Funding for 18 Projects to Advance H2@Scale. The grants include an award of $2,599,945 to Hexagon R & D LLC in Lincoln, Nebraska: Carbon Composite Optimization Reducing Tank Cost. See all the selections here.

FREE AWEA WEBINAR SERIES

Wind workforce webinar series to kick off #AmericanWindWeek 2020, by Greg Alvarez, Into the Wind, American Wind Energy Association Blog

To help both industry employers recruit the best and brightest as well as provide students with the essential resources to set them on a path toward a rewarding career in the wind energy workforce, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in partnership with AWEA, is hosting a free, three-part Wind Workforce Webinar Series, Monday, August 10–Wednesday, August 12, as part of #AmericanWindWeek.


GLOBAL OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY

China poised to power huge growth in global offshore wind energy: Report finds the offshore industry could create 900,000 jobs globally over next decade, The Guardian
The world’s offshore windfarm capacity could grow eightfold by the end of the decade powered by a clean energy surge led by China, according to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC). A new industry report has revealed stronger than expected growth for the offshore wind industry, which could reach 234GW by 2030, from a global tally of just over 29GW at the end of last year.
Also Published by The Guardian: Green energy could drive Covid-19 recovery with $100tn boost

 

The Guardian is partnering with Covering Climate Now, a global news collaboration of more than 400 news outlets, to boost coverage of solutions to the climate crisis.

 

TESLA NEWS

Tesla may become power provider in Germany, PV Magazine
The high-profile electric car maker is conducting a survey of German customers to gauge their interest in a Tesla electricity tariff.

SOLAR PERMITTING APP

SolarAPP residential solar permitting app to launch this fall, PV Magazine
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is “pushing toward” widespread release in October for SolarAPP, a web-based tool that local governments may adopt to speed permitting of residential solar installations. The October launch goal was announced by Jeff Cook, leader of the SolarAPP development project at NREL, in a webinar. The tool will be free to local governments, and will be funded by “a small fee” paid by solar contractors, an NREL spokesperson said.

PV-POWERED PARKING MACHINES

Solar for parking machines, PV Magazine

New Zealand researchers have proposed a way to assess the technical and economic feasibility of PV-powered parking machines. Solar might be an ideal solution, but the siting of the machines is critical and should be planned in advance, in line with available solar radiation and potential shading. The researchers presented their findings in “Solar resource assessment of modern parking machines in an urban environment,” which was recently published in Renewable Energy. Image: Southern Institute of Technology

ROBOTIC LAWNMOWER

Solar Alliance tests robotic lawnmower at Tennessee ground-mount project, Solar Power World


Solar Alliance Energy announced it is working with Husqvarna, Leeper Hardware and Appalachian Outreach as part of a test to determine the capabilities of the Husqvarna Automower robotic mower at an operating solar system in Tennessee.

USDA extends application deadline for the Rural Energy for America Program to April 15, 2020

The Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Extension of Application Deadlines. 

Who may apply?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

What is an eligible area?

  • Businesses must be in an area OTHER THAN a city or town with a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area of that city or town. Check eligible business addresses.
  • Agricultural producers may be in rural or non-rural areas.

Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) – Nebraska
Program Fact Sheet

Recommended Reading
USDA invests more than $172M in building rural Nebraska prosperity in 2019, Columbus Telegram More than $1.1 million was invested in 37 energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy development assistance projects through the Rural Energy for America Program.

Pingree introduces Ag Resilience Act

Hagstrom Report, The Fence Post

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, last week introduced the Agriculture Resilience Act, which she said would “promote farmer-driven climate solutions.” The bill contains provisions to increase agricultural research, improve soil health and protect farmland by increasing funding for the Local Agriculture Market Program and the Agriculture Conservation Easement Program and amend the tax code to exclude from gross income the gain from the sale of 1) permanent conservation easements and 2) farm property to beginning, socially disadvantaged, veteran and young farmers. The bill would also create a new alternative manure management program to support an array of livestock methane management strategies [and more]. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Senate energy bill includes investment in solar and energy storage, Solar Power World
After a full year of hearings, business meetings and bipartisan negotiations, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), released the text of their energy innovation package. The American Energy Innovation Act (AEIA) will modernize domestic energy laws to ensure the United States remains a global energy leader while also strengthening national security, increasing our international competitiveness and investing in clean energy technologies.

For the full bill text, click here. For a high-level summary, click here. For a section-by-section, click here.

Image: “Capitol Building” by Lubos Houska / Public Domain Pictures

The Expert Take: Katherine Hamilton on our energy transition

Generation 180 Interview

At Generation180, we’re working to inspire and equip individuals to get involved in the energy transition. It’s complex and it’s big. So to provide a better sense of where we’re headed, we’re providing a deeper dive into what’s happening with this transition—where are we right now, how far we’ve come, and, most importantly, where we need to go.

As part of our online Boot Camp project, we recently spoke with Katherine Hamilton, an energy expert with over 30 years of industry experience. Katherine has worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently the chair of 38 North Solutions and former co-chair of a World Economic Forum council on advanced energy technology. Here [is] what’s on Katherine’s mind and what she sees as the role of “everyday energy leaders.” Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENERATION 180

SUSTAINABILITY JOBS

Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree, Earth911

GREEN SCHOOLS

Iowa City schools anticipate cutting carbon emissions in half in five years, Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City schools appear on track to reduce carbon emissions by more than 45% by 2030, the goalpost student climate activists have pushed for in Iowa City, according to a consultant’s report.  But the report indicated that reducing carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2050, another goal pushed for by climate activists, will require the district to take action.

REGENERATIVE FARMING & CLIMATE RESILIENCY

Black farmers embrace and implement solutions for climate resiliency, by Leah Penniman, Co-Director Soul Fire Farm, GreenBiz

Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator, soil steward and food justice activist. She is co-director and program manager of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.


RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP)

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Program Status: Open
Program Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

NEW REPORT

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Environment America releases 2020 state legislative agenda priorities, News Release
State affiliates of Environment America, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, delivered meaningful progress on several environmental and public health issues in 2019. But given the obstacles that still exist at the federal level on those issues and more, states will have to continue to lead in 2020. Here is a roundup of the top issues and bills that Environment America’s 29 state affiliates will be working on across the country this coming year:

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2020 will be a key year (and decade) for electric vehicles, GreenBiz
This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

USDA funds business improvements for energy efficiency

By KHGI, Nebraska TV

Businesses from Ogallala to Columbus are taking steps to run more energy-efficient facilities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving them a boost. The USDA announced investments of $237 million nationwide to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses, with several Nebraska businesses selected to receive funding. The following businesses in Nebraska were selected to receive funding to boost their energy efficiency: Read more here.

REAP Overview & Application Information

USDA Helps Rural Businesses Make Energy Efficiency Improvements, Adopt Renewable Energy Systems

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2019 – Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $237 million to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses lower energy costs (PDF, 229 KB). The Department is providing 640 awards to applicants in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. USDA is providing the funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Continue reading here.

Rural Development Saves Nebraskans Energy Dollars

U.S. Department of Agriculture News Release

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Rural Development State Director Karl Elmshaeuser announces that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $203,493 in Nebraska to reduce energy costs for agricultural producers and rural small businesses.  “The energy projects funded will help to lower energy costs which will improve the recipients’ bottom lines and create jobs,” Elmshaeuser said. “Dollars saved will be available to be reinvested into Nebraska’s economy making it even stronger.” Nebraska recipients include: Continue reading here.

Previously Posted

More Ag News

  • Tons happening with agriculture right now, Melissa Bartels, Nebraska Extension-UNL
    What’s going on in Ag? The USDA reported this month that 19.4 million acres in the nation were not able to be planted; this is the most acres reported since the USDA Farm Service Agency began releasing the report in 2007. Twelve Midwestern states account for more than 73 percent of those prevent plant acres; flooding and heavy rainfall prevented the planting of mostly corn, soybeans and wheat. Approximately a half of a million acres within Nebraska were prevent plant. In our region, Butler County had over 7,000 acres reported to the USDA as prevent plant and Polk County had a little over 1,000 acres.
  • USDA reports 19 million prevented planting acres in nation, Nebraska TV

Previously Posted Ag News

  • The climate solutions beneath our feet, by Melissa Ho, Senior Vice President, Freshwater and Food, World Wildlife Fund. Published by GreenBiz. By using a combination of climate-smart practices — rotational cattle grazing on native grasslands, planting cover crops to keep soil in place and enrich it with nutrients, innovative feed options that provide nutrition and increase the efficiency of an animal’s gut biome — a producer theoretically could achieve net negative emissions.
  • Big Food turning to regenerative agriculture to meet sustainability goals, Food Dive

Featured Documentary
CBS News Documentary: A Climate Reckoning in the Heartland. Shared by Graham Christensen, Regenerate Nebraska.

Upcoming Event
September 8, 2019, 1:30 to 3pm: Climate Change in Nebraska with Dr. Martha Shulski, Director of Nebraska State Climate Office-UNL. Hosted by Green Bellevue at Bellevue University, Hitchcock Humanities Center, Room 202. Additional details here. Dr. Shulski was among those interviewed for the above CBS documentary.