Apply for USDA Renewable Energy Grants & Loans

First application deadline for grants is April 15; for guaranteed loans apply by June 16.

Mark Reisinger, USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa has announced the next deadlines to apply for guaranteed loans and grants available to help rural small businesses or agricultural producers looking to purchase renewable energy systems or make energy-saving improvements to their facilities or farms.

The first deadline for grant-only applications is April 15, 2008. The last date to apply for a guaranteed loan, for a combination guaranteed loan and grant or for the second round of grant-only applications is June 16, 2008.

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

Grants and guaranteed loans available

Grants of up to $250,000 are available for energy efficiency projects and up to $500,000 for renewable energy. Guaranteed loans of up to $10 million can be written for both energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Grants can cover up to 25% of the project costs while guaranteed loans, and combination grants and guaranteed loans can be issued for up to 50% of cost.

During the past five years, nearly 230 projects in Iowa have received $37 million in grants and guaranteed loan to help purchase renewable systems such as wind turbines, solar, geothermal, biodiesel, ethanol, anaerobic digesters or hydrogen, and make a wide variety of energy-efficiency improvements to facilities.

Some of the improvements have included new insulation, installing automatic lights, and replacing motors, refrigeration, ventilation and electrical and HVAC systems. A popular use of the program has been to assist in the purchase of new, more efficient grain-drying 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-efficiency upgrade that these funds could help finance.

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

Contact USDA Rural Development

Further information about the Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program and other programs is available by calling 515-284-4663, at a local Rural Development office or at www.rurdev.usda.gov/ia.  

Eleven USDA Rural Development offices in Iowa serve the 1.9 million Iowans living in rural areas. Office locations include a state office in Des Moines, along with Area Offices in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.

USDA Rural Development's mission is to deliver quality programs in a way that will support increasing economic opportunity and improve the quality of life of rural residents. As a venture capital entity, Rural Development provides equity and technical assistance to finance and foster growth in home ownership, business development, and critical community and technology infrastructure.

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