Published: April 7, 2023
By: Concentric Staff Writer
The White House on March 21 said that $1 billion in grants is available to help rural small businesses and agricultural producers install renewable-energy systems and energy-efficiency improvements.
The funding is made available through the Inflation Reduction Act, through an initiative known as the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will hold quarterly competitions for the money through Sept. 30, 2024, according to a USDA press release. It will also include $144.5 million in dedicated funding for an “underutilized technology fund.”
The agency said it is particularly interested in projects that will help rural communities recover economically by improving market opportunities and infrastructure, as well as projects that reduce climate pollution, conserve and protect farmland and invest in underserved communities. The program falls under President Joe Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, which has a target of 40 percent of federal funding going to disadvantaged and marginalized communities. USDA is setting aside at least 20 percent of the funds until June 30 of each year for grant requests of $20,000 or less.
An award of up to 50 percent of the total project cost is available for projects in designated energy communities or submitted by a tribal entity, with all other projects eligible for up to 25 percent of project costs.
Also on March 31, Biden visited a Cummins power generation facility in Fridley, Minnesota, to highlight the company’s production of electrolyzers to produce clean hydrogen, seen as a burgeoning technology to reduce emissions and stimulate manufacturing and industrial jobs. Cummins said that for the first time, it will domestically manufacture electrolyzers, which split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen.
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