Farm bill clean energy funds available

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CHICAGO – USDA Rural Development will make available $22.8 million in grants to jump start renewable energy and energy efficiency projects at farms, ranches and rural small businesses.

Through farm bill. The funds are available through Section 9006 (Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Assistance program) of the 2002 farm bill.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center welcomed the release of the Notice of Funding Availability for Section 9006 of the 2002 farm bill.

“This year’s program includes several improvements sought by ELPC, and others,” said executive director Howard Learner. “We welcome these improvements and look forward to working with the agricultural and rural small business communities and USDA to nurture strong applications.”

Changes. ELPC will provide a summary of changes at their new Web site, www.FarmEnergy.org. Some highlights include:

* Lower minimum grant levels. Now grants as low as $2,500 can be funded.

* New technical requirements based on specific renewable energy technologies.

* Feasibility studies are only required for renewable energy grant requests exceeding $50,000.

* Professional energy audits are only required for energy efficiency projects larger than $50,000.

* Special consideration given for smaller agricultural producers.

Deadline. The deadline for submitting applications for this year’s funding cycle is July 19. Since there are a large number of application requirements, interested applicants are urged to review program details and begin work on their applications soon.

The Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Midwest public interest environmental advocacy organization, launched the new Web site to aid applicants in assembling strong applications.

This site includes complete program information, required federal forms, a listing of upcoming applicant workshops and useful contacts.

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