At last week’s Washington International Renewable Energy Conference (WIREC) 2008, Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced that USDA will accept almost $221 million in loan and grant applications within USDA’s Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program.
“As demand for energy rises, these renewable energy loans and grants help farms and rural small businesses increase their investment in renewable energy initiatives,” said Schafer.
Eligible applicants may seek loan guarantees to cover up to 50 percent of a project’s cost up $10 million and grants are available for up to 25 percent of a project’s cost, not to exceed $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements and $500,000 for renewable energy systems. USDA Rural Development has invested $674 million in more than 1,763 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects since 2001 including ethanol, biodiesel, wind, solar, geothermal, methane gas recovery systems and biomass.
Schafer also announced the award of $4 million to help 17 small businesses and community groups find more innovative uses of woody biomass from national forests in new products and renewable energy. The grants will help create markets for small-diameter woody material, damaged and other low-valued trees removed to reduce the risk of fire hazard, insect infestation or disease.