Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program

To create a program to make direct loans, loan guarantees, and grants to agricultural producers (farmers and ranchers) and rural small businesses to help reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the nation's critical energy needs.

Examples of Funded Projects

(1) a $20,000 grant for the purchase and installation of a small solar system.

(2) a $224,000 grant for the purchase of a large wind turbine.

(3) a $50,000 grant to make energy efficiency improvements to an existing facility.

(4) a $171,386 grant for an anaerobic digester.

(5) a $10 million guaranteed loan for the purchase and installation of a biomass electric generation facility.


Agency - Department of Agriculture

Established in 1862, the Department of Agriculture serves all Americans through anti-hunger efforts, stewardship of nearly 200 million acres of national forest and rangelands, and through product safety and conservation efforts. The USDA opens markets for American farmers and ranchers and provides food for needy people around the world.

Office - The NOFA that was published in the Federal Register on March 6, 2008, provides the names, addresses and phone numbers of the contacts for each State.


Program Accomplishments

In fiscal year 2007, 562 projects were funded. Based on funding levels, we anticipate approximately the same number of projects will be funded in fiscal year 2008. The Agency anticipates the program to be at or above the same funding level for fiscal year 2009, funding activity is anticipated to be 600.

Uses and Use Restrictions

The amount of a grant shall not exceed 25 percent of the cost of the eligible project costs.

The maximum amount of combined grant and loan made or guaranteed shall not exceed 50 percent of the eligible project costs.

The funds must be used for purchase of renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.



Eligibility Requirements

Applicant Eligibility

An eligible applicant must be an agricultural producer or rural small business.

Individual applicants must be citizens of the United States (U.S.) or reside in the U.S.

after being legally admitted for permanent residence.

The applicant or owner must not have an outstanding judgment, delinquent on any Federal debt or debarred from receiving Federal assistance.

Beneficiary Eligibility

Farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses.

Credentials/Documentation

An Agricultural Producer (farmer or rancher) must be directly engaged in the production of agricultural products, including crops; livestock; forestry products; hydroponics; nursery stock; or aquaculture, whereby 50 percent or greater of their gross income is derived from the operations. A small business must meet the Small Business Administration's Business Size Standards by North American Industry Classification System; including all parent, affiliate, or subsidiary entities at other locations.

Aplication and Award Process

Preapplication Coordination

This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.

12372.

Application Procedures

The applicant must submit a complete application to the Rural Energy Coordinator in their respective State. A complete application includes standards forms 424, 424C and 424D plus Rural Development forms, feasibility studies, energy audits, environmental assessment (form RD 1940-20), and written technical requirements. This program is excluded from coverage under E.O. 12372.

Award Procedures

State Rural Development Office personnel will review all applications. Ineligible and incomplete applications may be returned to the applicant and not evaluated further. projects not financially or technically feasible will not be considered for funding. Qualified industry experts will review the technical requirements of the applications. The State Rural Development Office will score the application based on the Evaluation Criteria and submit it to the National Office to be reviewed and ranked. The National Office will rank applications based on its total score. The highest scoring applications will be selected until all the funds are depleted. Recommendations for funding will be forwarded to the Administrator of RBS, who will award the grants.

Deadlines

The Grant applications have two deadlines: Application must be postmarked no later than April 15, 2008 and June 16, 2008. The Combination loan and grant applications will be accepted and processed until June 16, 2008. Combination packages will be evaluated on a bi-weekly basis. Guaranteed loan applications will be accepted and processed until June 16, 2008, in a rolling application manner.

Authorization

Pursuant to enactment of the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, Title IX, Section 9006.

Range of Approval/Disapproval Time

From 60 to 180 days after the application is filed with RBS.

Appeals

Adverse actions made on applications are applicable. pursuant to 7 CFR part 11.

Renewals

None.

Assistance Considerations

Formula and Matching Requirements

The applicant must provide at least 75 percent of leveraged funds if the request is for grant funds. For a combination grant, loan and loan guarantee, the applicant must provide at least 50 percent of leveraged funds. In-kind contributions and other Federal grants may not be used to meet the 75 percent requirement.

Length and Time Phasing of Assistance

Grant funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis unless the funding partners require the funds to be disbursed on a pro rata basis.

Post Assistance Requirements

Reports

A financial status report and a project performance report will be required on a quarterly basis (due 30 working days after end of the quarter).

Grantees shall constantly monitor performance to ensure that time schedules are being met and projected goals by time periods are being accomplished.

Audits

Accounting records prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and supported by source documentation.

Records

Applicant will provide a financial management system in accordance with 7 CFR Part 3015. The applicant will also retain financial records, supporting documents, statistical records, and other records pertinent to the award for a period of at least three years after final disbursement, except that the records shall be retained beyond the three-year period if audit findings have not been resolved.

Financial Information

Account Identification

Not available at this time.

Obigations

(Loans) FY 07 $55,846,437; FY 08 est $204,953,560; and FY 09 est not reported. (Grants) FY 07 $20,553,428; FY 08 est $15,888,000; and FY 09 est not reported.

Range and Average of Financial Assistance

Range $2,500 to $500,000; Average $125,000.

Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature

Notice of Funds Availability was published in the Federal Register for this fiscal year's funding. Regulations will be developed and published in the Federal Register this fiscal year.

Information Contacts

Regional or Local Office

The NOFA that was published in the Federal Register on March 6, 2008, provides the names, addresses and phone numbers of the contacts for each State.

Headquarters Office

Rural Business-Cooperative Services, Department of Agriculture, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20013. Telephone: (202) 720-1400. Use the same number for FTS.

Criteria for Selecting Proposals

State Rural Development Office personnel will review all applications and score it on bases of the Evaluation Criteria and submit it to the National Office to be reviewed and ranked. the National Office will rank applications based on its total score. The highest scoring applications will be selected until all the funds are depleted. Recommendations for funding will be forwarded to the Administrator of RBS, who will award the grants.



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