Renewable Energy Grants for Rural Businesses

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Renewable energy systems eligible for USDA grants can be for the production heat, electricity or fuel.

On Sept. 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the availability of grants of up to $50,000 for agricultural producers and small rural businesses to conduct feasibility studies for installing renewable energy systems. The proposed systems can produce heat, electricity or fuel. They must produce energy from renewable energy sources, such as wind energy, solar energy, biomass energy, geothermal energy, hydropower or hydrogen-based sources. They must also be located in a rural area and owned by the applicant.

Under the Rural Energy for America Program, the USDA is making a total of $3 million available for the grants, which is sufficient to support at least 60 applicants. Applications are due Oct. 5.

The USDA also announced on Sept. 9 that it is awarding $1.9 million to Lincolnway Energy of Nevada, Iowa. The award will help the company modify a coal-fired boiler at its ethanol biorefinery to burn wood and other biomass. The award was made under the USDA’s Repowering Assistance Program, which makes payments to eligible biorefineries to encourage the use of renewable biomass as a replacement fuel source for fossil fuels. Authorized by the 2008 Farm Bill, the program is only available to biorefineries that were in existence when the bill was enacted on June 18, 2008.

Lincolnway Energy began making ethanol in 2006 and produces up to 60 million gallons of fuel-grade ethanol per year at its facility.

Reprinted from EERE Network News, a free newsletter from the U.S. Department of Energy.

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