A great opportunity awaits for businesses outside of the heavier population centers of Maine.

The USDA Rural Development is looking to give rural businesses the opportunity to use renewable and efficient energy with their Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvements program.  They are calling it REAP just to make this a little easier.

The program is focused on helping rural businesses, including agricultural businesses to buy and install new and upgraded energy systems that will make their business more energy efficient.

Applications are being taken until March 31, 2021.  Approved applications will be able to get funds to be used towards purchase, installation and construction of alternative energy units at a $2500 minimum.  The maximum amount of the grant is $500,000.

The REAP program is focused on the following energy systems to be used with the grant money by rural businesses:

  • Biomass (for example: biodiesel and ethanol, anaerobic digesters, and solid fuels)
  • Geothermal for electric generation or direct use
  • Hydropower below 30 megawatts
  • Hydrogen
  • Small and large wind generation
  • Small and large solar generation

The REAP program isn't just focused on installing new energy alternative energy units but also improvements to existing efficient energy systems as well.  Here's what $1500 - $250,000 of grant money could be used for to increase energy efficiency for local businesses:

  • High efficiency heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems (HVAC)
  • Insulation
  • Lighting
  • Cooling or refrigeration units
  • Doors and windows
  • Electric, solar, or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots
  • Switching from a diesel to electric irrigation motor replacement of energy-inefficient equipment

For more information about the Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvements program visit the Rural Development page on the USDA website.

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