USDA Rural Development Awards $1.2 Million in Iowa

Projects include biomass furnaces, geothermal system, more efficient restaurant equipment and grain dryers.

USDA Rural Development state director in Iowa, Mark Reisinger, in mid-May 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 farmers looking to finance a renewable energy system or make energy-saving improvements to their facility or equipment," says Reisinger. "I encourage interested business owners and producers to contact us at USDA 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 farmers buying grain dryers that are more energy-efficient than their current grain dryers.

Money for energy-efficient grain dryers

During the past two years, 82 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Iowa have received $15.4 million in guaranteed loans or grants from USDA Rural Development.

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 was 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.

Renewable energy and efficiency projects

Eligible projects fall into two categories, says Reisinger. 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 cover up to 50% of costs

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 aren't eligible. In addition, funds are not available for residential use.

"Iowans continue to be very successful at receiving funding through this program," notes Reisinger added. "If you are at all interested in applying, I hope you will contact a Rural Development office near you and we can help you go through the application process."

Contact USDA Rural Development for information

Information, applications, forms, and other tools for the energy program can be found at www.energygrantiowa.com. Feel free to contact the USDA Rural Development state office in Des Moines at 515-284-4714 with questions. Or, visit a Rural Development area office in Albia, Atlantic, Humboldt, Indianola, Iowa Falls, Le Mars, Mount Pleasant, Storm Lake, Tipton and Waverly.

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