"These efforts help farmers, ranchers and other small business owners save money on their energy bills, reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, support America's clean energy economy and cut carbon pollution," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release.
Through the established Rural Energy for America Program, the Department of Agriculture is providing more than $280 million to eligible applicants. USDA will give grants covering up to 25 percent of project costs and loans for up to 75 percent of project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Each applicant can receive up to $500,000 in grant money and up to $25 million in loan money.
Recipients must use commercially available technology, including renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass. Projects eligible for funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. To see application details, go to page 78929 of the Dec. 29, 2014 Federal Register or contact state USDA Rural Development offices.
Another kind of grant USDA is offering is to help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and run renewable energy projects. Potential applications include: units of state; tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities; and conservation and development districts. Recipients can receive up to $100,000. (Read more)