Montana Public Radio

USDA Offering Rural Green Energy Grants, Loans

Jul 22, 2019

The USDA has more than $400 million to spend supporting energy efficiency and green energy upgrades at farms and rural small businesses.

The Rural Energy for America Program offers grants, loans and loan guarantees for a range of projects, including installation of solar panels, anaerobic digesters and wind turbines.

Charles Robison with USDA’s Montana office says the funding is a valuable resource for Treasure State businesses looking to lower energy spending, whether they’re grain growers or spirit distillers.

“We all know when rural Montana prospers, all Montana prospers. When we can help a business or ranch family save costs, that money goes into the local rural economy and helps support jobs, helps the family stretch that farm and ranch dollar even further,” he says.

Last year, 30 grants totalling more than $500,000 were given out in Montana.

Robison says the program is particularly well-suited to businesses retrofitting old buildings with energy efficiency upgrades. He also says ranchers trying to power watering systems may think about solar or wind generation grants, instead of installing costly conventional power lines.

Grant-seekers can apply for up to $500,000 for a single project, while program loans can run into the millions.

USDA accepts applications for the program year-round.