On Feb. 7, President Barack Obama signed into law the Agricultural Act of 2014, also known as the Farm Bill. Among a variety of provisions meant to help support rural Americans, the legislation includes $881 million in mandatory funding for the Energy Title program.
The revamped Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), part of the Energy Title, will allocate $45 million in each fiscal year from 2014 through 2018 to offer grants and loans to rural businesses and agricultural producers to fund energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, including solar and small wind power systems.
Applications for REAP funding are to be evaluated under a three-tiered approach: projects costing $80,000 or less, those over $80,000 but less than $200,000, and those costing $200,000 or more. The Energy Title also provides funding for biofuel programs.
Renewable energy advocates have praised the Farm Bill's passage. For example, Lloyd Ritter, co-director of the Agriculture Energy Coalition, says, "By making modest investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and renewable chemical technology, the five-year Farm Bill â�¦ will have major benefits for energy security, economic growth and environmental gains across the entire United States."
Michael Brower, president and CEO ofÂ the American Council On Renewable Energy ACORE, notes that his organization salutes Congress for coming together and passing the bill.
"ACORE commends Congress for finding a way to pass a bipartisan Farm Bill that leaves crucial components of the Farm Bill intact while continuing to fund important renewable energy programs and recognizing the importance of water conservation," Brower says.Â
He adds that the programs under the Energy Title "have been and will continue to be important for farmers and small businesses working in the renewable fuels industry or looking to upgrade their facilities with clean, reliable and affordable renewable energy."