The Biobased and Renewable Products Advocacy Group (BRAG) helps members develop and bring to market their innovative biobased and renewable chemical products through insightful policy and regulatory advocacy. BRAG is managed by B&C® Consortia Management, L.L.C., an affiliate of Bergeson & Campbell, P.C.

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 13, 2018, the USDA Rural Business-Cooperative Service issued in the Federal Register a notice of solicitation of applications for the  Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for fiscal year (FY) 2018.  The solicitation is being issued prior to the passage of a final appropriations act to allow time for the submission and review of applications within the current FY.  Information on the amount of funding received in any continuing resolution or the final appropriations act will be published on the Rural Business-Cooperative Service website.  The solicitation applies to two types of REAP funding assistance.  The Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Assistance provides grants and guaranteed loans to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems, such as renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters), wind, solar, small hydro-electric, ocean, geothermal, or hydrogen derived from these renewable resources.  The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants supports the establishment of a program designed to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses with evaluating the energy efficiency and the potential to incorporate renewable energy technologies into their operations.
 
To be considered for funding in FY 2018, submissions must be received as outlined below:
 

Application

 
Application window
opening dates
Application window closing dates
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for up to approximately 50 percent of the set aside funds) April 1, 2017






 
October 31, 2017






 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants ($20,000 or less grant only request or a combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is $20,000 or less competing for the remaining set aside funds) November 1, 2017





 
April 30, 2018





 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Grants (Unrestricted grants, including combination grant and guaranteed loan where the grant request is greater than $20,000,) April 1, 2017




 
April 30, 2018




 
Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Guaranteed Loans Continuous application cycle
 
Continuous application cycle
 
Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grants February 1, 2017

 
January 31, 2018

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Given that applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, applications received after the specified deadlines will be considered with other applications received in the next application window.
Tags: USDA, REAP

 

By Lynn L. Bergeson

On March 6, 2018, a coalition of over 200 companies and trade associations sent a letter to the Agricultural Committee leaders in the House and Senate urging the reauthorization of and stable mandatory funding for the energy title programs in the next Farm Bill reauthorization.  The letter states that the Farm Bill energy title programs have greatly assisted rural America in developing clean, renewable energy, biobased products, and making energy efficiency investments for more than 15 years with an incredibly modest, cost-effective investment.  The less than one tenth of one percent of Farm Bill spending dedicated to the programs has allowed for ag-based entrepreneurs to launch initiatives to generate jobs and economic development in areas such as biogas and advanced biofuels, biopower, biobased products, renewable chemicals, and energy efficiency.  Additionally, the letter provides recommendations for further improving the energy title programs.  For example, the Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP) could be opened fully to standalone renewable chemical companies; the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) could be enhanced to support a fuller range of important, proven, market-ready technologies; and the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) could be effective in continuing to support biomass energy development and sustainably address hazardous fuels reduction efforts in our nation’s forests.


 

On August 7, 2015, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $63 million in loans and grants to be distributed through its Rural Energy for American Program (REAP). The $63 million is divided among 264 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects throughout the nation, in primarily rural communities. In addition to creating jobs and improving local economies, the newly announced REAP projects are expected to either save or generate 207.8 million kilowatt hours (KWh) of energy. REAP funds may be used by agricultural producers and rural small businesses to improve energy efficiency or install renewable energy, including solar, wind, renewable biomass, hydroelectric, ocean energy, hydrogen, and geothermal. Applications for the next round of REAP grants are due by November 2, 2015.


 

On September 18, 2014, Secretary Vilsack announced that USDA is investing $68 million in 540 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects nationwide. This is the most recent in a series of USDA actions designed to help strengthen the country's energy sector. The funding is available through the USDA Rural Development's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and was reauthorized by the 2014 Farm Bill. For more information, go online.


 

In the past week, three significant letters have been sent to conferees charged with preparing in final the next five-year Farm Bill urging them to include an Energy Title that supports biofuel and renewable chemical development and production.


On November 1, 2013, 30 bi-partisan Members of Congress sent a letter to the leaders of the House Committee on Agriculture and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry urging Farm Bill conferees to include and make necessary investments in an Energy Title. The letter stresses the importance of this support for renewable energy to the nation and its rural economies. In particular, the letter urges continued support for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), Biorefinery Assistance Program (BAP), and Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP). A copy of the letter is available online.


On November 4, 2013, 14 bi-partisan Senators sent a letter to the leaders of the Senate Agriculture Committee urging Farm Bill conferees to include an Energy Title as passed by the Senate earlier this year, which would include $900 million in mandatory funding and support for biofuels and expanded support for renewable chemicals. In particular, the letter stresses the importance of the REAP, BAP, and BCAP programs, as well as the Biobased Markets Program. A copy of the letter is available online.


Also, on November 4, 2013, over 130 organizations signed a letter sent to the leaders of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees similar to the one sent by the 14 Senators described above. A copy of the letter is available online.
 


 

On August 15, 2013, USDA announced funding under its Renewable Energy for America Program (REAP) for 631 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout the country. About $400,000 will go to 13 projects designed to install blender pumps in gas stations, which will allow for the greater distribution of higher blends of ethanol, including E85 fuel. The ethanol industry has been calling for greater federal help on blender pumps to allow for greater distribution of E85, which can help alleviate the impending "blend wall."