(NAFB)--USDA is looking to make it easier for agricultural producers and rural small businesses to apply for renewable energy and energy efficiency funding. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says a series of proposed changes will streamline and simplify the application process and give businesses more time to do what they do best - innovate, create jobs and serve their rural communities. The proposed changes would affect applications for loans and grants through USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program - or REAP. These changes would reduce paperwork - especially for those projects under 80-thousand dollars; implement a more objective and uniform system for scoring applications; authorize funding for refurbished and retrofitted renewable energy systems; reduce certain reporting requirements; and establish a quarterly application period for applicants seeking only guaranteed loans.
REAP is one of the Agriculture Department’s most popular renewable energy and energy efficiency programs. REAP funded more than 68-hundred renewable energy and energy efficiency projects, feasibility studies, energy audits and renewable energy development assistance projects from the passage of the 2008 Farm Bill through the end of Fiscal Year 2012.
Comments on the proposed rule - which was published in the April 12 Federal Register - will be accepted through June 11th.