Save Hundreds on Utilities

Are you a farmer or rancher or rural business owner who would like to save hundreds of dollars on your utility bill? Did your New Year’s resolution include making energy efficiency improvements to your property or business?

The United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for American Program (REAP) can help finance the cost of your next energy efficient project that will reduce energy use for your business.

Producers can receive grants up to $250,000 for making energy efficiency improvements and up to $500,000 for purchasing or installing renewable energy systems.

Producers with at least 50 percent of gross income derived from agricultural operations are eligible for various project loans and/or grants. Funding depends on the project size and there are three tiers of the application process: 1) less than $80,000 2) $80,000 to $200,000 and 3) over $200,000.

Energy efficiency projects may include door and window insulations, the installation of LED lighting, heating and cooling upgrades such as the installation of programmable thermostats, solar powered pumps for sprinkler pivots or electric irrigation motors.

Renewable efficiency projects may include the purchase, installation or construction of geothermal systems for electric generation, the action of hydropower below 30 megawatts, the development of hydrogen and wind projects, solar or ocean generation.

Producers must provide at least 75 percent of the project cost if applying only for a grant. If applying for a loan, applicants must provide at least 25 percent of the project cost. If a project is greater than $200,000 a technical report is required. Energy efficiency projects require an energy audit or assessment.

REAP accepts loan guarantee throughout the year. Grant fund applications are due May 2.

Producers are provided full service assistance in completing the applications and can obtain a program application at any local USDA office. For additional information, visit http://1.usa.gov/1AlJtoH or email Theresa Purnell, USDA Rural Development, at theresa.purnell@fl.usda.gov.