In response to an article ran in the Powder River Examiner a few weeks ago, Matthew Holben from USDA, Rural Development will be coming to Broadus to provide a presentation on the Rural Energy For America Program on Monday, February 28th, 2011 at 11am in the Election Room at the Courthouse.

The REAP/RES/EEI Grants Program provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. It also provides funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

The grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Grants are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Grant requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements will be considered. At least 20% of the grant funds awarded must be for grants of $20,000 or less.

The program is designed to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses that are able to demonstrate financial need. All agricultural producers, including farmers and ranchers, who gain 50% or more of their gross income from the agricultural operations are eligible. Small businesses that are located in a rural area can also apply. Rural electric cooperatives may also be eligible to apply.

Most rural projects that reduce energy use and result in savings for the agricultural producer or small business are eligible as energy efficiency projects. These include projects such as retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient units. Eligible renewable energy projects include projects that produce energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources. The projects can produce any form of energy including, heat, electricity, or fuel.

Ag producers – if you are looking at putting in solar wells this year, this program is something you might want to look into as a potential “supplement” to the EQIP program. Ag producers and small business owners looking at making their facilities more energy efficient should also look at this program.

Mr. Holben will be on hand to answer questions and assist individuals with applications or other information they may need to utilize this program. If for any reason you cannot attend this seminar but are interested in receiving information, please contact Julie Korkow at 406-554-3123.