Tag Archives: USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

Biden Chooses Virginia Ag Commissioner For Deputy Secretary At USDA

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

Two days before his inauguration, President-elect Biden selected Jewel Bronaugh, the Virginia state agriculture commissioner, as his nominee for deputy agriculture secretary, the No. 2 post at USDA. Bronaugh was among five women who were announced on Monday for deputy secretaries of federal departments and would be the first Black deputy secretary at USDA. The National Black Farmers Association said selection of Bronaugh was “an historic moment” for USDA. “We hope she will use her knowledge of the department to level the playing field for NBFA members as well as other minority and small-scale farmers and to end the culture of discrimination at the USDA,” said NBFA president John Boyd. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Biden’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Meets With Black Farmers, Black Enterprise

According to the Guardian, there are only about 45,000 Black farmers today. In 1920, there were more than one million. During the meeting, Vilsack affirmed his commitment to forging and establishing strong partnerships with organizations that provide assistance and support to Black farmers. Vilsack also wanted to ensure that Black farming organizations have a seat at the table while he is serving . . . If confirmed, Vilsack will take over the USDA at a time when Trump’s trade war with China has made things worse for U.S. farmers, especially small farmers. Bankruptcies have increased for small farmers, even with record levels of federal assistance.

Nebraska Chapter 12 Bankruptcies

Carbon Markets for Farmers

Indianapolis Star articles by Sarah Bowman and London Gibson

  • There is a lot of money on the table with carbon markets. But farmers are skeptical.
    As more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere and more companies pledge to go carbon neutral, interest in creating a market for carbon capture through agriculture is growing. Agriculture is now being seen by many as an untapped resource, and carbon markets the way to tap it.  “I think the potential is boundless, really,” said Mobley of The Nature Conservancy. “If it can work in Indiana, it can work anywhere in the country — politically, programmatically, with on-the-ground implementation, all of it.”
  • 5 things you need to know about what Biden’s plan for a carbon market means for farmers
    The incoming administration is proposing to create a carbon bank at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would buy credits from farmers and then sell them to corporations for offsets. Several other private carbon market programs have popped up, both from companies and non-profit organizations that are developing their own platforms. 

RegeNErate Nebraska

RegeNErate Nebraska is a network of farmers and ranchers, tribes, urban farmers, supporting businesses, organizations, food consumers, and communities who are committed to a shift away from extractive industrial food production in favor of an ethical and regenerative food system. Lying in the middle of the nation, Nebraska is the heart of our nation, and the culture and principles found here serve as a lifeblood for a well-functioning country. RegeNErate Nebraska’s mission is to redevelop and strengthen our communities from the soil up. This starts with building strong communities. RegeNErate Nebraska Resource Guide

Rural Energy for America Program Grants & Loans

The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects. The grant terms for renewable energy systems are $2,500 minimum to $500,000 maximum and for energy efficiency grants, $1,500 to $250,000. The next deadline is March 31, 2021 for REAP grants. Guaranteed Loans are accepted on a continuous application cycle. Click the above link to see additional requirements. Program Fact Sheet

For more information contact Nebraska Energy Coordinator Jeff Carpenter at 402-437-5554 or jeff.carpenter@usda.gov.

Federal Investment Tax Credit 

The Solar Investment Tax Credit, Solar Energy Industries Association
Congress passed a multi-year extension of the ITC in 2020:


Rural Energy for America Program Applications Now Open


The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects.

Deadlines

  • Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 2, 2020, or March 31, 2021.
  • Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2021.
  • Guaranteed Loans are accepted on a continuous application cycle.

Additional Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

Nebraska Contact Person
Jeff Carpenter, Business Program Specialist, State Energy Coordinator, 402-437-5554

ENERGY RESOURCES FOR NEW FARMERS & RANCHERS

The USDA sponsors the development of a new series of extension materials designed specifically with new farmers in mind. Called “Energy Answers for the Beginning Farmer & Rancher,” it utilizes farm energy experts from university extension programs across the country to answer hot-topic energy questions. The main product of the project is a series of short, engaging videos and resources that give useful tips and information on farm energy. Contributing extension programs include Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.

Links to additional resources for solar-powering farm operations & farmhouses: 

The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is 26% to the end of 2020, dropping to 22% in 2021 and 10% for commercial and utility-scale projects and 0 for residential projects in 2022.
Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) 

Obtaining a REAP grant, which provides 25% of the cost of a renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvement project, plus the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 26% would reduce the price a little more than half. Equipment depreciation is an additional benefit available for businesses to cut the cost even more.

Nebraskans for Solar Resources

Department of Energy Resource: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar

USDA Seeks Applications for Rural Energy for America Program

Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand invites applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems; to make energy efficiency improvements, conduct energy audits and provide development assistance.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This notice seeks applications for Fiscal Year 2020 funding. The deadlines to apply for grants are Oct. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
Read more here.

Renewable energy funds available for farmers

By Cody Smith, Policy Associate at The Center for Rural Affairs, Record Herald

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced more than $400 million available for farmers and rural business owners under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP, a farm bill program, provides financing for energy efficiency upgrades like insulation, lighting, and HVAC systems. Renewable energy systems like solar panels, anaerobic digesters, and wind turbines are also eligible. For both farmers and rural business owners, these systems can help cut energy costs—keeping money in rural economies across the nation. Read more here.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

Related Reading

Rural America is ready for some sort of a New Deal, preferably green

By Art Cullen, Published by The Guardian and Republished by Yahoo! News

The Midwest would welcome a New Deal, and this is where it must start. The Great Plains from Iowa down through Kansas and Texas lead the world in wind energy production. Yet the wind energy production tax credit is set to wane and expire over the next five years. Those wind turbine royalties are increasingly important in western Kansas where you can barely raise a corn crop even with irrigation because of soil degradation and warmer nights wrought by climate change. Wind energy technicians who keep the blades whirring are paid good union wages and are welcome residents in tiny Iowa villages. They could ply their trade in West Virginia as well. Read the entire article here.

Art Cullen is editor of the Storm Lake Times in Iowa and won the 2017 Pulitzer prize for editorial writing. Cullen is the author of the book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper (Viking 2018).

Spring Deadline for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Applications: Includes information on incentives for solar and small wind.

The spring deadline to apply for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants is April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year round. REAP assists agricultural producers and rural small businesses in reducing energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.

A 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system installed in 2015 powers the Hammond family farm operations west of Benedict, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Matt Ryerson / Lincoln Journal Star

Rick Hammond’s array cost $84,864 in 2015, but a combination of a USDA grant and federal tax credits brought the cost to him down to $19,100. Source: Farms flexing solar power, Lincoln Journal Star. Installers: MarLin Wind & Solar and North Star Solar Bears

Additional Recommended Reading

 

Rick Hammond and his family are the subjects of This Blessed Earth, the One Book, One Nebraska pick for 2019. Ted Genoways’ award-winning book is
also this year’s All Iowa Reads Selection.

 

More Farm Energy Resources

Next money ‘crop’ for Illinois farmers? Solar panels.

By Genevieve Bookwalter – The Washington Post,
Republished by Northwest Herald

ORION, Ill. – Randy DeBaillie pointed to the power meter on his snow-covered farm: Even on a foggy, monochromatic day, with the sun barely piercing the clouds, the flat black panels planted nearby in two long rows were generating electricity.

“There’s enough energy produced to run the whole complex,” said DeBaillie, 50, who farms 6,500 acres with his brother and cousin. They typically grow corn and soybeans each spring, but this year they want to put more solar panels on 15 acres – and sell the energy. The earnings, he said, would be about three times what an average harvest would yield there. Read more here.

Flickr Photo by Juwi Renewable Energies Limited: Poppy and solar farm.

 

Future Energy Jobs Act Website

 

Previously Posted Resources
NREL Webinar: Co-Location of Solar and Agriculture, Fresh Energy
Iowa State University Research Finds Wind Farms Positively Impact Crops, Iowa State University
Extension and Outreach

IN NEBRASKA

Previously Posted: NextEra, Nebraska farmers aim to build largest solar farm in the Midwest, Energy News Network. The 423-megawatt project would be among the largest in the country, but it hinges on an interconnection deal. Photo Credit: Rob Davis

Spring Deadline for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grant Applications

NEW INCENTIVE PROGRAM FOR LOW-INCOME HOMEOWNERS

New utility incentive can help low-income customers go solar, Austin Daily Herald

Upfront expenses have made it hard for low-income
homeowners to afford solar power systems that
generate both clean energy and long-term electricity cost savings. But that barrier is now being lowered for low-income customers of Xcel Energy. Xcel’s new Solar Rewards Income-Qualified Customers Program is
offering about $1 million in incentives for low-income Minnesotans who install solar energy systems. 

NEWS, OPINION & POLL FROM OTHER STATES

South Carolina House Unanimously Passes SC Energy Freedom Act, Vote Solar

The South Carolina House of Representatives passed H3659, the SC Energy Freedom Act, by a vote of
110-0. The bipartisan Energy Freedom Act resolves overly restrictive net metering limits, giving more
South Carolina families and businesses the choice to save money with solar while protecting the state’s
growing solar workforce, which now employs nearly 3,000 South Carolinians.

MANUFACTURING NEWS

First Solar is sitting pretty, PV Magazine

This year, the company expects to ship around 5.5 GW of PV modules and even at that volume, CEO Mark Widmar estimates stock is “fully sold out” through the end of next year and First Solar’s current 12 GW of bookings includes shipments scheduled through 2023.

INTERVIEW

ISES president on the promise of a 100% renewable energy world, PV Magazine International


The oldest solar organization in the world, the International Solar
Energy Society, dates back to 1954. President David Renné tells pv magazine about India’s solar dreams, the next best thing in solar technology and what renewables hold for the world’s future.

More Iowa Farmers Adapting to Climate Change

By Roz Brown, Public News Service – Iowa

Katie Rock, policy associate with the Center for Rural Affairs, said when talking to Iowa farmers, it’s increasingly clear that many want to innovate on their farms to address climate change. “They’ve taken the initiative to add on-site solar power and make energy-efficient upgrades, and these changes have led to significant cost-savings,” Rock said. “And farmers and landowners, they also lead through conservation practices that can improve soil health.”

Matt Russell is executive director of the state’s Interfaith Power and Light. He believes Iowa and other Midwest states that provide America’s food are in a position to lead the conversation on climate change. “One of our strongest ways to lead is to engage Iowa farmers to innovate on their farms, capturing carbon, generating renewable energy,” Russell said. “And then also to advocate for those practices and the resources to make that happen on their farms.”

Read the entire article or listen to the story here.

Photo: Flooding has cost Iowa residents, businesses and farmers about $18 billion over nearly three decades, according to a 2018 University of Iowa study. Credit: Pixabay/werner22brigitte

MORE CLIMATE ACTION NEWS

Michigan’s New Governor Puts Climate Change at Heart of Government, Inside Climate News

Gretchen Whitmer created a new office of climate and energy and is the 20th governor to join the U.S. Climate Alliance, committing to the Paris climate principles. Photo Credit: Governor Whitmer’s Office


IN NEBRASKA: UPCOMING EVENTS & RESOURCES

Nebraska Legislative Hearing
On Monday, February 11 at 12 pm there will be a hearing on LB283 before the Executive Board in room 1525. LB283 would provide funding to the University of Nebraska to
develop a plan for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of
climate change.

You can testify at the hearing or send written testimony to Senator Mike Hilgers, Executive Board Chair, by this Friday, February 8th. His email address is: mhilgers@leg.ne.gov.
Your letter must include your name and address, state a position for, against or neutral on the bill and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record.
Nebraska Legislature: Testifier Tips
Nebraska Legislature News

SEIA Statement on the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), on today’s release of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report:

“We’re pleased to see continued bipartisan support for the Rural Energy for America Program, which enables the spread of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements throughout America’s heartland. This USDA program finances projects in every state, helping entrepreneurs in rural communities reduce their energy costs.

Solar power is an affordable, clean, job-producing solution that America’s farmers and small businesses can greatly benefit from. We urge Congress to pass this important legislation before the end of the year.”  – SEIA News Release

USDA Rural Energy for America Program
Nebraska USDA Rural Development

USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant Applications Now Open

USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett recently announced that the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is accepting grant applications for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects. The application deadline is April 30, 2018 for grants and loan/grant combinations. Small businesses in eligible rural areas and agricultural producers, both rural and non-rural, who have at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations, may apply. Check eligible business addresses.

REAP grants provide up to 25% of the total project costs, and a grant and loan combination up to 75%. Eligible projects include renewable energy systems and the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements. See REAP Fact Sheet for a complete list of eligible projects.

The terms for renewable energy system grants are from $2,500 minimum to $500,000 maximum and for energy efficiency grants, from $1,500 minimum to $250,000 maximum.

Nebraska REAP Program

Jeff Carpenter
Nebraska Rural Development Energy Coordinator
Telephone: 402-437-5554 
Email: Jeff.Carpenter@ne.usda.gov

USDA Invests Over $300 Million to Help Hundreds of Small Businesses Improve Energy Efficiency, Adopt Renewable Energy Systems

Tom Vilsack
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $300 million to help hundreds of small businesses across the country save money on their energy costs by adopting renewable sources or implementing more efficient energy options. Vilsack made the announcement at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, today during a meeting with several local business owners who will make use of these loans and grants.

Continue reading.


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

REAPing America’s Clean Energy Future, USDA Blog, Posted by Sam Rikkers, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Servicecentral-city

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced hundreds of new projects like the one I visited over the summer in Central City, Nebraska.  It exemplifies the strategic thinking our rural communities use daily to find new ways to prosper.  A community just shy of 3,000 residents, Central City is home to the first community solar garden project ever developed in Nebraska. Read the entire post.

Photo: Administrator Sam Rikkers (left) discusses the Central City Solar Garden Project with (L-R) City Administrator Chris Anderson, Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company (with his back to the camera), and Bill Sheppard and Jeff Carpenter of USDA Rural Development’s Nebraska offices.

SEE ALSO
USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants
Nebraska Contact for the Rural Energy for America Program