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Renewable energy grants available

By Staff | Mar 23, 2009

DES MOINES – Ag businesses and producers in rural Iowa, looking to create renewable energy or make energy-saving improvements to their facilities or farms, may be able to finance up to 75 percent of eligible project costs through a USDA Rural Development grant and guaranteed loan program.

A total of $55 million is available nationwide in 2009 for the Rural Energy for America Program in the 2008 Farm Bill.

“We strongly encourage interested businesses begin working on their 2009 applications now,” said Tim Helmbrecht, Acting USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa. “Extensive information is available on our web site to help with the application process, including templates, guidelines and other important resources.”

Application deadlines and the official Notice of Funds Availability for 2009 funding will be published in the Federal Register at a future date.

“Waiting to start an application until after the deadline is announced may not allow you enough time to complete all components of your application,” Helmbrecht said.

New to the program this year is a guaranteed loan, or a combination guaranteed loan and grant, can be awarded for up to 75 percent of total eligible costs.

The previous maximum was 50 percent. Also, stand-alone grants can be awarded up to 25 percent of total eligible costs.

Last year, a record 167 rural businesses and producers in Iowa received nearly $14.3 million through this energy-saving program.

Examples of renewable energy projects include wind, solar, biomass, bio-energy, biogas (anaerobic digestion), geothermal or hydroelectric.

Energy efficiency projects include improvements to facilities, buildings or processes that reduce energy consumption such as increasing the R-value of side-walls or ceilings, adding environmental computer controllers, or installing more efficient heating systems, windows, doors, lighting, ventilation systems, cooling system equipment, pumping systems, commodity handling systems, drying systems, etc.

To qualify for financial assistance through REAP, the total project costs must be greater than $6,000 for energy efficiency projects and $10,000 for renewable energy projects.

Restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, greenhouses, cold storage businesses, ethanol plants, manufacturing facilities, as well as any other business that requires a large amount of energy to operate, may benefit from an energy-efficiency upgrade.

“This program can make a big difference to rural small businesses or producers looking to finance a renewable energy system or make energy-saving improvements to their facility or equipment,” Helmbrecht said.

Agricultural tillage equipment, used equipment and vehicles are not eligible.

Purchases made or construction started before submitting an application are not eligible. Funds are not available for residential use.

For additional information call a local Rural Development office or visit www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.

Eleven USDA Rural Development offices in Iowa serve the 1.9 million Iowans living in rural communities and areas.

Site locations include a state office in Des Moines, along with area offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.

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