WASHINGTON, D.C. (WWLP) – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is taking applications from agricultural producers and rural small businesses to help them invest in renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements.

USDA is making the $1 billion in grants available under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), with funding from the Inflation Reduction Act. 

The REAP money is to be used for projects that will help rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and improved infrastructure, reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, conserve and protect farmland, and invest in underserved communities. The program is part of the federal Justice40 Initiative, which aims to ensure that 40% of the overall benefits of certain Federal investments are shared to disadvantaged communities that are marginalized, underserved and overburdened by pollution.

USDA will set aside at least 20% of the available funds until June 30 of each year for grant requests of $20,000 or less, including the grant portion of a combined grant and guaranteed loan request. USDA will hold competitions quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024.

Information on application deadlines and submission details can be found on the March 31 Federal Register.