Tuesday, March 29, 2005

USDA Releases Notice of Funds Availability for 2005 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released its Notice of Funds Availability for the 2005 Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Program. A total of $22.8 million is available through USDA's Section 9006 program, which supports investments in renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements by agricultural producers and rural small businesses. Half of the $22.8M will be available immediately through the competitive grant application program for particular renewable energy and energy efficiency projects (ranging from $2,500 - $500,000 per project). The remaining $11.4M will be set aside for a guaranteed loan program, the details of which will be released later this summer.

More businesses are eligible for the Section 9006 grant program than you might expect. The definition of "rural small business" is any business located in a "rural" area that has fewer than 500 employees and less than $20 million in annual revenue. "Rural" means a community of fewer than 50,000 people not located in a metropolitan area. You can check out the rural area determination map to determine if a potential project is located in a rural area.

Windustry, one of the leading wind energy non-profit organizations in the U.S., has an excellent resource section on the Section 9006 program. It includes examples of past projects that received funding through the program in 2003 & 2004, as well as application guidelines and tips.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center also maintains a website on the Section 9006 program - The Farm Bill Clean Energy Site.