HURON — United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) State Director for South Dakota Julie Gross encourages rural small businesses and agricultural producers to apply for financing in a key program, USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), that provides loan guarantees to help rural small businesses lower their energy costs.

“Assisting rural communities is our mission,” said Gross. “Reducing operating costs and energy consumption can assist a small business’ bottom line and allows them to invest in equipment, products, and services to expand their operation.”

USDA accepts applications for REAP funding year-round. Potential applicants can contact Jolene Pravecek at jolene.pravecek@usda.gov or (605) 655-3516 for additional information. In conjunction with the REAP Guaranteed Loan Program is a competitive REAP grant. If selected, grant funds will reimburse the applicant up to 25% of eligible project costs. The next application deadline for REAP grants (requesting $20,000 or less in grant funding) is Oct. 31, 2019.

REAP funding can be used for renewable energy systems such as anaerobic digesters, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, wind and solar. It also can be used to make energy efficiency improvements to heating, ventilation and cooling systems; insulation; and lighting and refrigeration.

This program helps increase America energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower the cost of energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.

Gross’ announcement is in coordination with the recent announcement made by Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has more than $400 million still available for Energy System and Energy Efficiency Loan Guarantees.

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