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USDA Rural Development awards energy grants, loans in Iowa

Agriculture.com Staff 05/14/2007 @ 10:53am

Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development State Director in Iowa, today announced that 19 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Iowa are receiving $1.2 million in guaranteed loan and grant funds through the agency's energy program.

"This program can make a big difference to rural small businesses or producers looking to finance a renewable energy system or make energy-saving improvements to their facility or equipment," Reisinger said. "I encourage interested business owners and producers to contact Rural Development to learn more."

Projects in Iowa receiving funding include businesses looking to install biomass furnaces and geothermal heating systems, a restaurant planning to purchase more energy-efficient equipment, as well as producers purchasing more energy-efficient grain dryers.

There are additional application deadlines approaching for this program that helps rural businesses or agricultural producers who are looking to produce renewable energy or make energy-saving improvements to their facilities or farms.

The deadline for grant-only applications is Friday, May 18. Applications for guaranteed loans, and a combination grant and guaranteed loan must be received by July 2 to be considered for 2007 funding.

Eligible projects fall into two categories. One use is to finance the installation of renewable energy systems, such as small and large wind turbines, solar, geothermal, biodiesel, ethanol, anaerobic digesters or hydrogen. Or, funds can be used for energy efficiency projects, including installing new electric motors that are more efficient in equipment, adding insulation, and improving electrical or heating and cooling systems.

Restaurants, grocery stores, bakeries, greenhouses, cold storage businesses, ethanol plants, manufacturing facilities, as well as any other business that requires a large amount of energy to operate, may benefit from an energy-efficient upgrade that these funds could help finance.

Grants from Rural Development can cover up to 25% of the project costs. Minimum total project costs to qualify for grants are $6,000 for energy efficiency improvements and $10,000 for new renewable energy projects. The maximum energy efficiency grant is $250,000; $500,000 for renewable energy.

Guaranteed loans can be issued for up to 50% of the project costs. Minimum project costs to qualify for a guaranteed loan is $10,000 for both energy efficiency and renewable projects. The maximum guaranteed loan is $10 million. A combination grant and guaranteed loan can be requested for up to 50% of eligible project costs.

Costs incurred before submitting an application for both grants and loan guarantees are not eligible. In addition, funds are not available for residential use.

The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program was created as part of the 2002 farm bill to assist farmers, ranchers and rural small businesses develop renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements to their operations.

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