The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides grants and loan guarantees to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. In March of 2023, the USDA announced some significant changes to the REAP grant program. Here is what you need to know:
The USDA has made $1.055 billion available in the REAP Grant program for the fiscal year 2023. To promote the use of underutilized technologies, the USDA has set aside $144 million of the available funding for these types of projects. Underutilized technologies are defined as technologies that have been underutilized in the agricultural sector or rural communities but have demonstrated potential to provide significant benefits.
Maximum Grant Sizes
The maximum grant sizes have been doubled for energy efficiency grants and renewable energy systems for Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs). The maximum grant size for energy efficiency projects is now $500,000, and the maximum grant size for renewable energy systems is now $1,000,000. This means that agricultural producers and rural small businesses can now apply for more funding to make energy efficiency improvements and install renewable energy systems.
Quarterly Funding Schedule
One of the biggest and exciting changes is the switch to a quarterly schedule. The USDA will now obligate the available funds across six quarterly cycles. This means that applicants will have six opportunities to submit their applications for funding throughout the year. The first quarterly competition closes on June 30, 2023, and the next round opens on July 1, 2023. The second quarterly competition closes on September 20, 2023, and applications will be processed as FY 2024.
Grants vs. Loans
It is important to note that these changes only apply to grants, not loans. The REAP program also offers loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements.
REAP Funding Better Than Ever
The latest updates to the USDA REAP Grant program provide significant opportunities for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to make energy efficiency improvements and install renewable energy systems. The increase in available funding, the set-aside for underutilized technologies, and the doubling of maximum grant sizes will enable more projects to be funded. The switch to quarterly cycles will ensure more qualified businesses will have plenty of opportunity to be awarded funding.
If you interested in applying for REAP funding, or curious to know if you qualify, reach out to Genie Solar Energy. Our team of commercial solar experts and grant writers can review your business needs and see if REAP funding is a prime opportunity for you.