by: Chris Zoller, Extension Educator, ANR for Tuscarawas County
This USDA Rural Development program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers can also apply for new energy-efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing. Applications are due no later than March 31, 2023.
How Can Funds be Used?
Funds can be used for renewable energy systems such as:
- Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
- Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
- Hydropower below 30 megawatts
- Small and large wind generation
- Small and large solar generation
Funds also can be used to buy, build, and install energy efficiency improvements such as:
- High-efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
- Cooling or refrigeration units
- Doors and windows
- Electric, solar, or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots
- Switching from a diesel to an electric irrigation motor
- Replacement of energy-inefficient equipment
Who is Eligible to Apply?
Agricultural producers who generate at least 50 percent of their gross revenue from farming and small businesses in rural areas may apply for low interest rate loans and grant funding. Small businesses interested in applying must be in an eligible area. Check this website for additional information: https://eligibility.sc.egov.usda.gov/eligibility/welcomeAction.do?pageAction=ONERD.
- Applicants must provide at least 60 percent of the project cost if applying for a grant only.
- Applicants must provide at least 25 percent of the project cost if applying for loan.
- All projects must have technical merit and utilize commercially available technology.
- Energy efficiency projects require an energy audit or assessment.
Additional program information, including application instructions can be found here: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/energy-programs/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency-improvement-guaranteed-loans/oh.