Friday, October 5, 2012

A New Source of Funding for Energy Development and Rural Energy Efficiency

A late comment on the USDA's involvement in rural housing development programs prompted me to look again at stuff the Rural Development Agency does--and it drew my eye to their energy development and conservation funding programs.  I've done other blog entries about energy programs from DOE and state development and energy programs, but realized the I overlooked the obvious driver in government funding--who has an interest in getting something accomplished?  The USDA has an obvious interest in: 1) helping rural businesses and farms with money saving 2) helping develop and nurture biomass energy sources (which farmers can grow and sell).  I should have thought of it sooner.

The main place to look is the main energy page at the USDA Rural Development Office.  It has links to the Biorefinery Assistance Program, which provides government guarantees on loans to finance the building and expansion of renewable bioenergy plants.  This won't necessarily make the loan cheaper, but make the bank more inclined to create the loan, because they know they won't get burned. 

The Repowering Assistance Program was created to finance projects that replacement of fossil fuels with biomass fuels that are NOT made with cornstarch (which is already been done).  The Advanced Biofuel Payment Program gives payments to producers that create fuels from"... renewable biomass crops such as cellulose, sugar and starch (other than ethanol derived from corn kernel starch), hemicelluloses, lignin, waste materials, biogas, butanol, diesel-equivalent fuel, sugarcane, and nonfood crops such as poplar trees or switchgrass." 

Finally, there's the Rural Energy for America Program.  It provides grants and loans to rural small businesses and farms to install renewable energy systems, energy saving systems, energy audits and feasibility studies. 

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