USDA Offers $221 Million in Clean Energy Loans and Grants

March 12, 2008

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced on March 6 that it will accept $220.9 million in loan and grant applications under the agency's Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. Loan guarantees and grants are available to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Since 2001, the USDA has invested $674 million in more than 1,763 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, including renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel and renewable energy sources such as methane gas recovery systems and wind, solar, geothermal, and biomass energy systems.

Eligible applicants may seek loan guarantees to cover up to 50% of a project's cost, not to exceed $10 million. Grants are available for up to 25% of a project's cost, not to exceed $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements and $500,000 for renewable energy systems. Grants will be awarded through two separate competitions, with the deadline for the first being April 15 and the deadline for the second being June 16. Applications for loans or loan and grant combinations are due by June 16. See the USDA press release and the program Web page.

The USDA also announced its award of more than $4.1 million to help 17 small businesses and community groups find more innovative uses of woody biomass, including renewable energy uses. The grants range from $170,000 to $250,000, while the project participants are providing as little as $65,590 to as much as $1.3 million for each project. The grants will be awarded to organizations in Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and South Dakota, including the Coquille Tribe of Oregon. See the USDA press release.