A total of 32 grant projects are currently active and include electric generation, transmission, and distribution upgrades and replacements, energy efficiency improvements, and on-grid and off-grid renewable energy systems.
The projects benefit local consumers by preserving reliable service and reducing or limiting rate increases.
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.
In FY 2007 it is expected that 50 applications will be submitted and that 15 to 20 projects will be funded.
Uses and Use Restrictions
Funds must be used to acquire, construct, extend, upgrade, and improve energy generation, transmission, or distribution facilities serving communities in which the average annual expenditure for home energy costs is at least 275 percent of the national average.
Energy efficiency and on-grid and off-grid renewable energy systems are eligible.
Not more than 4 percent of amounts made available in grant funds may be used for planning and administrative expenses.
Funds may not be used to pay utility bills, fuel costs, or operating expenses.
Eligible applicants include States, political subdivisions of States, for-profit and non-profit businesses, cooperatives, associations, organizations, and other entities organized under the laws of States, Indian tribes, tribal entities, and individuals.
The governments and entities located in any U.S.
Territory/possession or other area authorized by law to receive the services and programs of the Rural Utilities Service or the Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended, are also eligible.
Projects must serve rural communities in which the annual average residential expenditure for home energy is at least 275 percent of the national average. Energy cost eligibility benchmarks are included in the published Notice of Funding Availability.
Aplication and Award Process
This program is excluded from coverage under E.O.
Grant applications are accepted in response to a Notice of Funding Availability published in the Federal Register and Grants.gov. Application requirements are described in the published notice and on the agency web site. Application materials may also be requested from the Agency.
Grants will be awarded based on competitive ranking of applications according to published evaluation criteria for technical merit, community need, economic hardship, and rurality.
Deadlines for applications will be published in the Notice of Funding Availability in the Federal Register, Grants.gov and on the Agency web site. Applications will be accepted only during the announced application window.
Rural Electrification Act of 1936, as amended, Title I, Section 19, Public Law 106-472, 114 Stat. 2058, 7 U.S.C. 918a.
Range of Approval/Disapproval Time
Selection of grant finalists will be announced approximately 90 to 180 days after the application deadline. Final Grant awards will be approved after completion of environmental review and other pre-award requirements.
Applicants may appeal rejections of ineligible applications to the Administrator of the Rural Utilities Service under procedures in program regulations at 7 CFR Part 1709. Applicants may not appeal numerical rankings of competitive grant applications.
Formula and Matching Requirements
Length and Time Phasing of Assistance
Grant agreements will run for the period of time necessary to complete the project and provide at least one year of operating data, generally about three years. Extensions may be granted. Advances and reimbursements will be disbursed over the term of the grant on request of the grantee.
Post Assistance Requirements
Grant recipients will be required to file periodic financial and performance reports specified in the grant agreement and program regulations.
Recipient will be required to report in accordance with the provisions of OMB Circular A-133 (Revised, June 27, 2003), "Audits of States, Local Governments, and Non-Profit Organizations," as applicable, and as provided in the grant agreement and program regulations.
Grantee must maintain records in accordance with requirements of programregulations and the grant agreement.
FY 07 $3,928,578; FY 08 est, $21,900,000; and FY 09 est not reported.
Range and Average of Financial Assistance
Minimum award is $75,000 and maximum is $5,000,000. Individual grant awards have ranged from approximately $175,000 to $3.775,000.
Regulations, Guidelines, and Literature
7 CFR Part 1709.
Regional or Local Office
Assistant Administrator,Electric Programs, Rural Development Utilities Programs, Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C. 20250-1560. Telephone: (202) 720-9545. Use the same number for FTS.
Criteria for Selecting Proposals
Grant applications will be ranked competitively based on published evaluation criteria. All projects must serve rural communities with extremely high energy costs.
Lindsey Hall, co-founder of social enterprise Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), writes about UK’s first rural Social Enterprise Zone in Cornwall and explains how 'social’ and 'enterprise’ are still a gaping dichotomy.