The US Department of Agriculture has published its final rule (Rule) for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which was formerly known as REDA (Renewable Energy Developmental Assistance).

The Rule revises 7 C.F.R. part 4280, subpart B, establishing provisions for certain grants and loan guarantees available for renewable energy systems (RES) and energy efficiency improvements (EEI), as well as for grants available for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. The Rule also modifies an earlier interim rule issued on April 13, 2011, and the proposed rule published on April 12, 2013, in light of comments received thereon. The Rule is effective starting February 1, 2015.

REAP was originally authorized by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, and was amended by Section 9001 of the Food, Conservation, and Energy Act of 2008. REAP’s statutory authority was continued by the Agriculture Act of 2014, with several specific changes:

  • Removing RES feasibility study grants;
  • Removing the ability to provide assistance for flexible fuel pumps;
  • Adding councils, as defined in 16 U.S.C. 3451, to be an eligible applicant for EA and REDA grants; and
  • Creating a three-tier application process for RES and EEI projects.

REAP seeks to promote energy efficiency and renewable energy development for agricultural producers and rural small businesses by providing grants and guaranteed loans for eight different categories of renewable energy production. As stated in the Rule, these categories are:

  1. A wind, solar, Renewable Biomass, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal), geothermal or Hydroelectric Source; or
  2. Hydrogen derived from Renewable Biomass or water using wind, solar, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal), geothermal or Hydroelectric Sources.

“Renewable Biomass” and “Hydroelectric Sources” are further defined in the Rule.

Eligible applicants for RES and EEI financial assistance are agricultural producers and rural small businesses.

The eligible entities for EA and REDA grants are: units of a state tribal or local government; land-grant colleges and universities, and other institution of higher education; rural electric cooperatives; councils (as defined in 16 U.S.C. 3451); public power entities; and instrumentalities of a state, tribal or local government.