New Funding Available for Farms and Small Businesses
Luther College’s Center for Sustainable Communities and Winneshiek Energy District (WED) have received USDA funding to provide energy audits to small businesses and agricultural producers in NE Iowa and SE Minnesota. The grant funding provided by USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) significantly reduces the cost of a high-quality energy audit.
The program is open to small businesses and agricultural producers in the following counties:
- Fillmore and Houston Counties in Minnesota
- Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Fayette, Clayton, Delaware, Jones, and Jackson Counties in Iowa
- Dubuque County, Iowa, excluding the Dubuque metro area
Program rules require that participants must either be a 1) Agricultural Producer (an individual or entity with over 50% of their income from the sale of agricultural products) OR 2) a rural small business. Rural small businesses are businesses located in a non-metro county or rural part of a metro county. Businesses must meet the criteria of the US Small Business Administration (SBA ), generally under 500 employees.
More information on USDA defined metro areas can be found here.
More information on SBA small business definition can be found here.
The capacity of the program is limited by funding. Applications will be evaluated as they are received, with input from WED and other local partners. Participants interested in completing clean energy projects and willing to participate in clean energy outreach activities are especially encouraged to apply.
The energy audit and investment plan are comprehensive of all energy sources and uses, and include solar site assessment if desired. Grant funds cover 75% of the cost, but USDA program rules require participants to pay 25% cost-share for the audit and planning process. The participant cost varies depending on scale and complexity of the business:
- $250 for most small businesses (less than 20,000 square feet and $20,000 in total annual energy expenses); $500 – $750 for larger or more complex commercial establishments
- $600-800 for most farm operations; $850-$1,000 for larger or more complex farms
Questions from potential participants should be directed to Joel Zook, Lead Energy Planner, firstname.lastname@example.org, 563-380-7137.