Update on the Rural Energy for America Program

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Partners celebrate installation of solar panels at Mt. Abram ski area thanks to funding from the USDA REAP program image courtesy of USDAThe Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is a competitive grant and/or loan guarantee program to help fund renewable energy system (RES) and energy efficiency improvement (EEI) projects for rural small businesses or agricultural producers. Applicants may qualify for a grant of up to 25 percent of eligible project costs, a loan guarantee up to 75 percent of eligible project costs, or a combination of grant and loan guarantee up to 75 percent of eligible project costs.

2015 SUMMARY

Fiscal year 2015 was busy for REAP, due to the large increase in both funds available and applications submitted. A few statistics for FY15 in Maine:

-Maine received $1,313,000 in funds for REAP projects. Of this, $169,000 was set aside specifically for grant requests of $20,000 and less and $1,144,000 was for unrestricted grant requests (any amount allowed by regulation, including those $20,000 and less).

-Maine received 42 complete REAP applications requesting a total of $2,362,473 in grant funds.

-In FY15, REAP Maine expects to fund at least 26 applications. Final determinations are expected by the end of September.

-Maine received 26 complete applications requesting $20,000 or less in grant funds, with the average request being $9,993. The other 16 applications requested over $20,000 in grant funds and averaged $131,415 per request.

-The smallest grant request received was for $1,867 and the largest was for $500,000.

-REAP’s Maine office received 35 RES applications and 7 EEI applications. Solar PV was all or part of 33 out of the 35 RES applications.

LOOKING INTO 2016 

Maine expects to receive roughly half the amount of REAP funds for FY16 that they received in FY15. Based upon State averages for FY15, that means Maine could easily fund at least 8-9 of the under $20,000 and 4-5 of the unrestricted grant requests.

The first FY16 application deadline is at close of business (4:30 p.m.) on November 2, 2015. This application deadline is for grant requests of $20,000 and less only. These are the only applications that will be competing this round. The amount of state funding available for this competition should be roughly $43,000 (half of the roughly $85,000).

The second FY16 application deadline is at the close of business (4:30 p.m.) on May 2, 2016. This application deadline is for unrestricted grant requests (any amount allowed by regulation, including those $20,000 and less). The amount of state funding available for this competition should be roughly $43,000 (the other half of the roughly $85,000) for grant requests of $20,000 and less, plus roughly $572,000 for unrestricted grant requests.

REAP can accept grant/loan guarantee applications at any time and will hold them until the next competition round in which they are eligible to compete. For instance, if you submit a grant application in October 2015 requesting $50,000 in grant funds, it will be held for the second FY16 competition (the first one it is eligible to compete in). The benefit of this is that any of the eligible costs of your project incurred after your completed application is received can be considered for reimbursement under REAP. So even if you cannot compete for funding until the second deadline, you could submit your complete application earlier (i.e., October 2015), complete your project (i.e., November 2015), and still compete for funding in May 2016.

If you want to discuss REAP regarding eligibility, possible projects, or anything else please get in touch with Cheryl Pelletier at (207) 764-4157 ext. 135 or Brian Wilson at (207) 990-9168. If you are interested in applying for REAP funding, they will send you the correct application materials. Also, check out the website.

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