$22.8 Million Available for Renewable Energy Use on Farms, Rural Communities

Funds will help support renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements by agricultural producers and rural small businesses.

Farmers are becoming bigger users and producers of energy. To help in the adoption of more renewable energy systems and energy efficient improvements, Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced in a briefing Monday that $22.8 million would be given to support renewable energy in rural America.

Johanns explains that $11.4 million will be available immediately in the form of competitive grants. The remaining funds will be set aside through August 31, 2005, for renewable energy and energy efficiency guaranteed loans.

The funds are part of Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficient Improvements loan and grant program section of the 2002 Farm Bill. The funds announced will be available to support a wide range of technologies encompassing biomass (including anaerobic digesters), geothermal, hydrogen, solar, and wind energy, as well as energy efficiency improvements.

Renewable energy grant applications must be for a minimum of $2,500 and a maximum of $500,000. Energy efficiency grant applications may range from $2,500 to $250,000. The grant request may not exceed 25% of the eligible project cost. Applications must be submitted to the appropriate Rural Development State Office postmarked no later than June 13, 2005. Detailed information about application and program requirements will be included in the March 28, 2005 publication of the Federal Register.

Final details for the guaranteed loans will be announced later this year. Any funds not obligated under the guarantee loan program by August 31, 2005, will be reallocated to the competitive grant program as of that date.

For more information on the program, visit USDA's Rural Development Web site.

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