Get Your Energy Grants and Loan Guarantees

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Biomass from wood waste photo courtesy of DOEHeads up, rural Maine! It's time to submit your requests for funding for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects…not to the Department of Energy but to the Department of Agriculture.

The USDA's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is designed to help agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation's critical energy needs. To this end, the REAP program helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

MOST of Maine is considered to be rural for purposes of eligibility for REAP awards. Here is a map where you can enter your address to confirm geographical eligibility.

You are eligible if you are one of the following:
1. An agricultural producer (individual or entity) directly engaged in the production of agricultural productsand obtains at least 50% or greater of their gross income from their agriculture business;
2. A rural small business – an entity is considered a small business in accordance with SBA’s (Small Business Administration) small business size standards (by NAICS codes). SBA small size standards can be found here.
3. A private entity including a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and a cooperative (including a cooperative qualified under section 501(c) (12) of the Internal Revenue Code or
4. An electric utility, including a Tribal or governmental electric utility that provides service to rural consumers on a cost-of-service basis without support from public funds or subsidy from the Government authority establishing the district, provided such utilities meet SBA’s definition of small business. These entities must operate independent of direct Government control.

With the exception of the entities described above, all other non-profit organizations and public entities are excluded.

The types of renewable energy projects that are eligible include: biomass, anaerobic digester, geothermal for electric generation, geothermal for direct use, hydrogen, small and large wind, small and large solar and micro-hydro.

In addition, energy efficiency improvements that can be verified by an energy audit or assessment are eligible. To qualify, energy efficiency improvement projects MUST show an energy savings.

Nationwide, the amount of funds available for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements in Fiscal Year 2014 will be approximately $12.38 million in mandatory grant programs and approximately $57.8 million in guaranteed loan programs.

For renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grant projects only, there will be an allocation of funds to each State, and the Rural Development's National Office will maintain a reserve of funds.

No less than 20% of allocated funds in Fiscal Year 2014 will go to fund grants of $20,000 or less.

For renewable energy system grants, the minimum grant is $2,500 and the maximum is $500,000. For energy efficiency improvement grants, the minimum grant is $1,500 and the maximum grant is $250,000.

For renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees, the minimum guaranteed loan amount is $5,000 and the maximum amount of a guaranteed loan to be provided to a borrower is $25 million.

Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement applications for Fiscal Year 2014 funds will compete for funds allocated to their State for competition.

Separate competitions will be held for (1) grant only and grant and guaranteed loan combination applications; and (2) guaranteed loan only applications. Grant only and grant and guaranteed loan combination applications will have one State competition.

Applications for grant-only and grant/guaranteed loan combos are due no later than July 7, 2014. Applications for guaranteed loans-only are due no later than July 31, 2014.

All applications for projects in the state of Maine must be submitted to Cheryl Pelletier in an original and one copy. Start by calling or emailing Cheryl Pelletier to let her know you will be submitting an application and to request a fact sheet. Application materials can be downloaded here.

Cheryl's contact information is:

Cheryl D. Pelletier, Loan Specialist
Maine Rural Development Area Office
735 Main Street Suite 1
Presque Isle, ME 04769
(207) 764-4157, Ext. 135

If you have not already done so, you will need to obtain a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number from Dun and Bradstreet and register with the System for Awards Management (SAM) for a Central Contract Registration (CCR) number. These can take some time, and it should be done early. More information about this is included in the online application materials. There is no charge for either of these numbers. You will need to renew your CCR number each year to keep it active.

FMI check out the Maine Rural Development website. Good luck to all who apply!

Photo: Biomass from wood waste photo courtesy of DOE.