Tag Archives: Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

‘We farm the sun’: For some Wisconsin dairy farmers, solar energy is a new source of income

By Jana Rose Schleis, Wisconsin Public Radio

Cows graze near a field of solar panels Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Two Rivers, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Farmers have what solar energy companies need: land. Across the state, partnerships between dairy farms and energy companies are increasing, changing the landscape and providing farmers extra revenue in a sometimes unpredictable market. That unpredictability can take the form of a years long dip in milk prices, or unfortunate weather. Wisconsin had record-setting rainfall in 2018 and 2019, increasing the challenges farmers faced. Read more here.

Nebraskans for Solar Note: In addition to earning extra income by leasing land for renewable energy development, farmers and ranchers in every state also can save significant amounts of money on their own energy bills by taking advantage of available incentives for solar, small wind, battery storage, energy efficiency upgrades and other clean energy projects.

These incentives include the following:

How the climate deal could help farmers aid the environment

By Michael Phillis, Associated Press, PBS News Hour

The funding would expand programs favored by both environmental groups and the agricultural sector, said Ben Thomas, who focuses on agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund. “They are voluntary, they are incentive-based, they get results in terms of implementing conservation practices on working lands,” said Thomas. “It’s great to see.”

Thomas said historically, the agricultural sector has not aggressively tackled its contribution to climate change, but that hesitation has shifted in recent years and more money will accelerate progress. There’s a lot of potential, he said. Read more here.

USDA NEWS RELEASE

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Inflation Reduction Act

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – “President Biden and Congress have taken an important, historic step towards easing the burden of inflation on the American public and meeting the moment on climate. If passed, the Inflation Reduction Act will have a meaningful impact on the rural and agriculture communities we serve at The Department of Agriculture.

“Agriculture has long been at the forefront of our fight against climate change. From climate-smart agriculture, to supporting healthy forests and conservation, to tax credits, to biofuels, infrastructure and beyond, this agreement provides USDA with significant additional resources to continue to lead the charge.

USDA CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 

USDA Action Plan For Climate Adaptation And Resilience, August 2021


This Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience outlines how USDA will provide relevant information, tools, and resources to its stakeholders and target programs and activities to increase resilience to climate impacts. USDA will prioritize equity, promote environmental justice through a focus on healthy communities, and target adaptation actions with co-benefits for climate mitigation, conservation, and sustainability.
– USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Climate spending in new reconciliation deal a ‘turning point’ for the U.S., supporters say, by Jacob Fischler, Nebraska Examiner
Environmental advocates largely praised the climate provisions in Senate Democrats’ massive taxes, health care and energy bill released Wednesday night, saying even with provisions to help the fossil fuel industry, the measure represents a historic step toward addressing the climate crisis. The 725-page bill — made public mere hours after U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced a surprise deal — includes $369 billion over 10 years in tax credits and spending for renewable energy.

Reconciliation bill includes ag conservation programs, The Fence Post
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced that there will be a nearly $40 billion investment in agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to fight inflation and lower costs for the American people through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Senate Deal Boosts Climate-Smart Ag, Progressive Farmer
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) would see nearly $1.8 billion in funding. Rural renewable energy loans would also be expanded as well. Rural electric cooperatives would see $9.7 billion to help build out renewable energy development as well. “This bill creates direct incentives for co-ops to bolster investments in carbon capture, grid modernization, renewables, battery storage and other energy technologies,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Tax incentives would expand wind, solar and other renewable energy through 10 years of tax credits.

Links to Resources

FEATURED NEBRASKA FARM USING RENEWABLE ENERGY

Pork Producer Uses Solar Power Technology To Improve Environment And Operation, Brownfield Ag News

A Northeast Nebraska pork producer is using renewable energy to promote sustainable agriculture and offset energy consumption on his farm. He says he received a 26 percent tax credit on the project and it has a 7 to 8 year payoff period.

USDA Seeking Applications for Rural Energy For America Grants & Loans

Next Deadline: October 31, 2022 

What does this program do?
The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who may apply for this program?

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

Learn more here: Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants in Nebraska

Above Photo: In 2015 Rick and Heidi Hammond installed a 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system on their farm west of Benedict in York County, Nebraska. The project estimate at the time was $84,864; however, a USDA grant and federal tax credits reduced the cost to only $19,100, The payback was just over 6 years, which was achieved in 2021. Solar panels typically last 30 or more years.
Installers: MarLin Wind & Solar and North Star Solar Bears

Another Local Example: The Brummond Farm

Click the link, below, to access a Successful Farming story published in 2021 about the Brummond Farm near Craig, Nebraska. The installer, Graham Christensen of GC ReVOLT, offers renewable energy grants writing among the company’s services. The Solar Power Bonanza: Farmers Can Readily Tap Into The Explosive Growth In Solar Generation

Most Recent Nebraska REAP Grant Awardees

USDA Invests Nearly $800 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America This Earth Day, USDA News Release 

In Nebraska, six recipients were awarded grants under the Rural Energy for America Program. Recipients here are: in Albion, MSJM Properties Partnership, Marilee Niewohner, and Niewohner Grandchildren’s Limited Partnership; in Boyd, Valley Foods Cooperative; in Holdrege, Spady Buick Pontiac GMC Inc.; and in Monroe, Alan G Preister. Combined, they were awarded $68,500 for projects that will save or generate 491,444 kWh per year, enough energy to power 45 homes annually. 

“I encourage Nebraskans to connect with us to find out how USDA can partner with them for their energy conservation needs. For more information, contact Jeff Carpenter, energy coordinator, at (402) 437-5554 or at NE.RBCS@usda.gov,” said Bolz. 

Information on the federal investment tax credit (currently 26%), energy audits, depreciation, NDEE loans and more can be found here: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency – Nebraska.

Quick Links

ConnectDER Partners with Nebraska Public Power and Omaha Public Power District to Provide Simple Solar Integration

ConnectDER News Release, PR Newswire

ConnectDER, the innovative company that enables utilities and homeowners to expand access to distributed energy resources (DERs), is launching availability of its Solar Collar for new residential solar installations in Nebraska. ConnectDER’s simple, affordable meter collar can now be used in solar installations throughout Nebraska Public Power and Omaha Public Power District areas. The ConnectDER Solar Collar is a UL-Listed meter collar that enables rapid interconnection of grid-ready residential PV systems. The device creates a safe, standardized, low-cost alternative to traditional wiring methods for home installations. Continue reading here.

SOLAR APP+ ALSO EXPEDITING SOLAR PROJECTS & SAVING MONEY

LINKS TO RESOURCES FOR POTENTIAL RENEWABLE ENERGY CUSTOMERS

OPPD, NPPD, LES: Customer-Owned Generation

American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

Department of Energy

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

  • Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
    Eligible Technologies Include: Solar Water Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Biomass, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Wind (Small)
  • Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
    Eligible Technologies Include: Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Geothermal Electric, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Combined Heat & Power, Wind (Small), Geothermal Direct-Use, Microturbines

EnergySage

Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Renewable Energy Series

Consumers Webinar for Residential / Small Business Solar
Speakers
David Rich: Sustainable Energy Manager, NPPD
John Hay: Extension Educator – Energy, UNL
Ron Rose: Renewable Energy Consultant, NPPD
Kirk Estee: Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager, OPPD
Marc Shkolnick: Manager, Energy Services, LES

Additional Resources

Solar power projects see the light on former Appalachian coal land

By Carey L. Biron, Thomsen Reuters Foundation News

The U.S. government formally began looking at putting renewable energy installations
on disturbed land – including mines, but also contaminated sites and landfills – in 2008. Since then, the RE-Powering America’s Land program has mapped over 100,000 potential sites covering more than 44 million acres.

DICKENSON COUNTY, Virginia – Looking west from Hazel Mountain, Brad Kreps can see forested hills stretching to the Tennessee border and beyond, but it is the flat, denuded area in front of him he finds exciting.

Surface coal mining ended on this site several years ago. But with a clean-up underway, it is now being prepared for a new chapter in the region’s longstanding role as a major energy producer – this time from a renewable source: the sun.

While using former mining land to generate solar energy has long been discussed, this and five related sites are among the first projects to move forward in the coalfields of the central Appalachian Mountains, as well as nationally. Continue reading here.

Virginia’s Clean Energy Legislation

Previously Posted: Interior Investing Over $260 Million to Help Create Jobs and Revitalize Land in Coal Communities, Department of the Interior News Release

DESERT RENEWABLE ENERGY CONSERVATION PLAN


The Biden Administration seeks to conserve 30% of U.S. land by 2030. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is one way to that goal.

See: Road to 30, Center for Western Priorities. Scroll down to learn about this plan and more Ways to Get to 30.

DOI News Release: Interior Department Advances Three Solar Projects in California, Marking Significant Progress to Develop a Clean Energy Economy


The three projects will generate roughly 1,000 megawatts (or 1 gigawatt of power) and are the first projects approved under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in the desert regions of seven California counties. 

 

Additional Resources

FEATURED REAP STORY FROM NORTH CAROLINA

Salisbury water buffalo farm installs solar panels with help from Rural Energy for America Program, Salisbury Post 

Caring for the buffalo and making products with their milk is hard work, and it also requires a significant amount of energy. That’s why the couple decided to install solar panels on the roof of their milking parlor and creamery last year. They were excited to find out in the spring they were awarded a $13,000 grant to help finance the project from the United States Department of Agriculture through its Rural Energy for America Program.

Next REAP Application Deadline: March 31, 2022

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION NEWS & RESOURCES

Celebrating Clean Power’s Progress and Reflecting on ACP’s First Year
ACP was created to unite the power of America’s clean energy industry. Our trade association brings together wind, solar, transmission and storage companies, along with manufacturers and construction companies, project developers and owners/operators, utilities, financial firms, and corporate purchasers of clean power to advance our shared goals and to transform the U.S. power grid to a low-cost, reliable, and renewable power system. 

Featured ACP Resources

Additional recommended reading on the above topic: Three Myths About Renewable Energy and the Grid, Debunked, by Amory B. Lovins and M.V. Ramana, Yale Environment 360

Renewable energy skeptics argue that because of their variability, wind and solar cannot be the foundation of a dependable electricity grid. But the expansion of renewables and new methods of energy management and storage can lead to a grid that is reliable and clean.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Rural Energy for America Program

What does this program do?

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. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who may apply for this program?

  • Agricultural producers in rural or non-rural areas with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses located in rural areas with populations of 50,000 residents or less.

See additional details here.
Program Fact Sheet (PDF)

Next Application Deadline: November 1, 2021

Who can answer your questions?
Contact Nebraska’s Rural Development Energy Coordinator:
Jeff Carpenter, USDA Rural Development
100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Telephone: (402) 437-5554
jeff.carpenter@usda.gov
http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

Additional Ways to Reduce A Project’s Costs

See: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency-Nebraska

Business Equipment Depreciation – IRS Resources

Climate Crisis Catches Power Companies Unprepared

By Brad Plumer and Ivan Penn, New York Times

The phone call to the Eugene Water & Electric Board was startling. A group of homeowners, fearing a storm could knock down nearby power lines and ignite wildfires, was asking the Oregon utility to turn off their electricity. “I about fell out of my chair,” said Rodney Price, the utility’s assistant general manager, of the people who were voluntarily asking to live in the dark in September, during one of the worst fire seasons Oregon had ever seen. It was a sign of growing angst, he said. “We’re seeing more and more widespread impacts of climate change. It’s clear it’s impacting how we do our business.” Across the United States, power companies are scrambling to keep up with a barrage of extreme weather from a rapidly warming climate. Continue reading here.

Photo: Smoke from the Dixie Fire near a Pacific Gas & Electric power station in California this month. Credit: John G. Mabanglo/EPA

Previously Posted

CLIMATE RISK 

INDIANA

As Indiana coal plants close, advocates say gas power should not replace them, by Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

As it retires a coal-fired power plant, CenterPoint Energy is pushing to build a smaller gas plant than one that was rejected two years ago by Indiana regulators. Consumer and environmental groups still say it’s unnecessary. “After the proposed gas combustion turbines are built, they propose to run them 2% to 10% of the time,” said Sameer Doshi, senior attorney in Earthjustice’s coal program, which is representing Citizens Action Coalition in state and federal proceedings around CenterPoint’s proposal. “Whereas customers would be billed for the entire construction cost of the plant as well as the capital cost of the new pipeline. We intend to show a combination of market purchases, demand response, and increased renewables deployment with storage would be able to fill in the gaps” left by the retiring coal plants. 

COLORADO

Social cost of methane changes the equation for Colorado utility policy, by Allen Best, Energy News Network

Colorado is believed to be the first state in the nation to apply the social cost of methane to a broad range of regulatory decisions. A batch of new laws are expected to dramatically improve the case for building energy conservation. The social cost of methane emissions was set most recently at $1,756 per short ton by the U.S. Interagency Working Group on Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases, compared to $68 for carbon dioxide. Both metrics estimate the economic damages of releasing emissions into the atmosphere.

Methane Leaks

COLORADO SOLAR GROUP PURCHASE CAMPAIGN

Local ‘Solarize’ campaign boosts Garfield County solar energy investment, Post Independent
The recent Solarize Garfield County campaign generated $2.8 million in rooftop solar and battery investment, added nearly a megawatt of renewable energy to the grid and helped county residents bank $270,000 in rebates, according to recent figures released by Carbondale-based Clean Energy Economy for the Region (CLEER).

FEATURED AGRIVOLTAICS RESEARCH

Beneath Solar Panels, the Seeds of Opportunity Sprout, National Renewable Energy Laboratory 

To better understand the benefits of—and barriers to—low-impact solar development, the Innovative Site Preparation and Impact Reductions on the Environment (InSPIRE) project brings together researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Argonne National Laboratory, universities, local governments, environmental and clean energy groups, and industry partners. The project is funded by DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

“It doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. For all our agriculturally productive land, let’s help PV developers and farmers plan out these solar projects so that farmers can get under the arrays and continue to work the land for the next 20 or 30 years.” —Gerry Palano, energy program coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture

USDA: Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants in Nebraska

PV RECYCLING

Emerging solar panel recycling market ripe with opportunity, but barriers remain, Waste Dive
The U.S. is likely to see significant volumes of end-of-life panels, creating opportunities for safe, sustainable recycling or reuse. Some states are looking at product stewardship to avoid disposal.

SEIA National PV Recycling Program

TESLA NEWS

Tesla Installed 85 Megawatts Of Rooftop Solar Power In 2nd Quarter, But That Doesn’t Actually Show Demand, by Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

In some places in the US, the permitting process can take just a few days less than forever. In many other places in the US, it can take weeks or months (as in, several months). There are not many places where it happens in the course of a week. Europe and Australia don’t seem to have a permitting problem anything like this. Permits are quick and easy. The US, for some reason, is slow to adapt. One promising initiative is the new SolarAPP+ initiative. It is helping to streamline the solar permitting process in places around the country. As simple as it sounds, this is one of the most exciting developments in the US solar industry in years.

Additional Recommended ReadingTesla will open its charging network to all EV brands

Senate advances bipartisan infrastructure bill in procedural vote

By Jacob Pramuk, CNBC

The Senate voted Friday to move forward with a bipartisan infrastructure bill, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer pushes to pass it as soon as next week. The vote was delayed briefly as senators reportedly worked out an issue related to broadband. The final text of the legislation has yet to be released. The procedural measure needed only a simple majority to pass. The final tally was 66 votes in favor, and 28 against. Continue reading here.

Related Reading

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION REPORT

First Clean Power Annual report shows record U.S. renewables growth and investment
WASHINGTON DC, July 29, 2021 – The American Clean Power Association today released its first Clean Power Annual report, which showed wind, utility solar, and battery storage power capacity in the U.S. topped 170 gigawatts (GW), following a record 26 GW of clean energy projects coming online in 2020.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

USDA REAP FUNDING NOTICES

  • Rural Energy for America Program Energy Audit & Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants (July 26, 2021) Federal Register Notice
  • Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants (July 26, 2021) Federal Register Notice

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 

Lower Battery Costs, High Value of Backup Power Drive Distributed Storage Deployment
Fourth Report in NREL’s Storage Futures Study Uses Distributed Generation Market Demand Model To Estimate Behind-the-Meter Storage Capacity, Identify Drivers of Customer Adoption. Several findings in the study demonstrate that PV and batteries make an economical pairing. Because an average PV-plus-battery storage system is larger than PV-only configurations, battery storage increases the PV capacity and the system’s economic value.

Read the Report: Distributed Solar and Storage Outlook: Methodology and Scenarios.

Upcoming Webinar: NREL’s Storage Futures Study team will host a free public webinar on Tuesday, August 10, 2021, from 10 to 11 am CT. Register here.

BATTERY MATERIALS RECYCLING

Former Tesla CTO’s battery materials recycling company announces US$700 million+ investment, Energy Storage News

Former Tesla battery guru JB Straubel’s materials recycling company Redwood Materials has attracted more than US$700 million in investment. Redwood, which is currently developing processes to produce battery materials that can be resold into the supply chain, has partnerships in place with the likes of Panasonic, Envision AESC and Amazon. The company pledges to recycle any device with a lithium-ion battery including phones, laptops and power tools, although a major focus is being placed on electric vehicle (EV) batteries.

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants in Nebraska

What does this program do?

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. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who may apply for this program?

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

Application Deadlines

Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 1, 2021, or March 31, 2022.

Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2022.

See additional details here.

Who can answer questions?
Contact Nebraska’s Rural Development Energy Coordinator:
Jeff Carpenter, USDA Rural Development
100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Telephone: (402) 437-5554
jeff.carpenter@usda.gov
http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

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