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2008 Wind Technologies Market Report

2008 Wind Technologies Market Report

Berkeley, California - The U.S. Department of Energy released its “2008 Wind Technologies Market Report.” This report, authored primarily by Ryan Wiser and Mark Bolinger of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, provides a comprehensive overview of trends in the U.S. wind power market, with a particular focus on 2008. For the fourth consecutive year, the U.S. was home to the fastest-growing wind power market in the world in 2008. Specifically, U.S. wind power capacity additions increased by 60 percent in 2008, representing a $16 billion investment in new wind projects. "At this pace, wind is on a path to becoming a significant contributor to the U.S. power mix," notes report author Ryan Wiser, of Berkeley Lab. Wind projects accounted for 42% of all new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2008, and wind now delivers nearly 2% of the nation's electricity supply.

Wind projects
accounted for 42% of all new electric generating capacity added in the U.S. in 2008, and wind now delivers nearly 2% of the nation's electricity supply.

The “2008 Wind Technologies Market Report” provides a comprehensive overview of developments in the rapidly evolving U.S. wind power market. The need for such a report has become apparent in the past few years, as the wind power industry has entered an era of unprecedented growth, both globally and in the United States. At the same time, the last year has been one of upheaval, with the global financial crisis impacting near-term growth prospects for the wind industry, and with federal policy changes enacted to push the industry towards continued aggressive expansion. "With the market evolving at such a rapid pace, keeping up with trends in the marketplace has become increasingly difficult," notes report co-author Mark Bolinger. "Yet, the need for timely, objective information on the industry and its progress has never been greater...this report seeks to fill that need." 

Some of the key findings of the report include:

  • The United States continues to lead the world in annual capacity growth. For the fourth straight year, the United States led the world in wind capacity additions, capturing roughly 30% of the worldwide market.
  • The cumulative wind capacity installed in the United States at the end of 2008 would, in an average year, be able to supply roughly 1.9% of the nation's electricity consumption.
  • Soaring demand for wind has spurred expansion of wind turbine manufacturing in the United States. The share of domestically manufactured wind turbine components has grown from less than 30% in 2005 to roughly 50% in 2008, and that roughly 8,400 new domestic manufacturing jobs were added in the wind sector in 2008 alone.
  • Texas led all states with 7,118 MW of total wind capacity installed, followed by Iowa (2791 MW) and California (2517 MW). Seven states now have more than 1,000 MW installed, and 13 have more than 500 MW.
  • Iowa and Minnesota have the highest levels of wind penetration.
  • Wind power remained competitive in wholesale power markets in 2008, with average wind power prices at or below the low end of the wholesale power market price range.

The report can be downloaded at:

A PowerPoint presentation based on the report can be found at:

Offshore Wind Potential in the United States

Floating Wind Turbine ConceptsIn June, a large-scale floating turbine was installed off the coast of Norway by companies StatoilHydro and Siemens. The floating turbine, dubbed the Hywind, is located in water that is about 700 feet deep. This is significantly deeper than previously installed offshore turbines whose fixed-bottom structures required a water depth of only about 100 feet.

The United States has yet to install any offshore wind turbines, partially because appropriate turbine designs, like the floating turbines, are still being researched, said Jason Jonkman, a senior engineer with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

"Offshore wind energy must progress in stages in the U.S.," he said. "Before deepwater floating wind energy can become a reality, we must ‘get our feet wet' so to say by first installing fixed-bottom offshore wind turbines in shallow water, less than 30m. Once we have experience with that technology, we can move to deeper water."

Another roadblock in U.S. offshore projects is inconsistent permitting practices. Since offshore ownership varies greatly from the east and west coasts, the Great Lakes, and the southern gulfs, leasing conditions have not been streamlined, said Katie Roek, an attorney with Stoel Rivers LLP who has extensive experience wind energy projects.

She explained that the east coast's Outer Continental Shelf is under jurisdiction of the Minerals Management Service, which has just recently finalized leasing licenses. The Great Lakes, however, do not have an agency like the MMS overseeing broad leasing regulations. It is instead each state's responsibility to develop their own leasing practices to use with the Lakes' main permitting agent, the Army Corps of Engineers. Until the states can establish their own leasing practices, the only offshore projects that can possibly go online in the U.S. are located on the Outer Continental Shelf.

"The Great Lakes are basically five to seven years behind the Outer Continental Shelf," Roek said. The controversial Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, for example, has now been approved by the MMS, while all projects proposed for the Great Lakes have stalled.

But that doesn't mean Great Lakes offshore projects won't happen. Michigan, for instance, already has a joint process for putting structures like barges in the Great Lakes, so they could adapt that permitting process for wind turbines, Roek said, rather than creating a new process from scratch.

Ohio is probably furthest along with tapping the Great Lakes' wind resources, since their offshore potential in Lake Erie could generate more than 100 percent of their electricity needs, Roek said. One of the biggest steps Ohio and other states must take is establishing incentives for utility companies, since the average cost of installing an offshore turbine is double that of onshore. This, along with conducting preliminary zoning work to determine the best locations for offshore turbines, will help the Great Lake states make offshore projects more feasible.

Examples of proposed U.S. offshore projects:

CAPE WIND - Nantucket Sound: Massachusetts 

Project: Proposes 130 turbines on Horseshoe Shoal about 5 miles south off the coast of Cape Cod.
Current status: Waiting on permitting - The final Environmental Impact Statement by the Minerals Management Service was released in January and found no serious environmental hazard, but the MMS still needs to issue its formal record of decision before Cape Wind can move forward.
What's next: Federal Aviation Administration must still give clearance, and mandatory consultations with Wampagnoag tribes and historic agencies must be conducted.

OFFSHORE WIND PARK (Developed by Bluewater Wind) -  Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Delaware

Project: Hopes to install 150 turbines approximately 14 miles from shore.
Current status:
In June, the Secretary of the Interior issued an exploratory lease to build a meteorological tower that will collect information on wind speed, direction and intensity to determine feasability.
What's next: Developers hope to build a meteorological tower during the winter and begin ocean operation in spring 2010.

RADIAL WIND - Lake Michigan: Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois and Indiana

Project: Calls for 390 turbines about 18 miles east of Milwaukee in the area known as the Mid-Lake Plateau, which is shallower than the rest of the lake (about 130 to 260 feet, opposed to 600-plus feet elsewhere).
Current status: On hold because of lack of technology for mounting turbines in 200 feet of water.
What's next: Developers hope to secure permitting in spring 2011, with a ground breaking the following year.

View full size diagram
Illustration: U.S. Department of Energy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory

DOE Announces $22 Million for Community Renewable Energy Projects

Washington DC, July 15, 2009 - U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced plans to provide up to $22 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to support the planning and installation of utility-scale community renewable energy projects in up to four communities nationwide. This funding opportunity directly supports the Obama Administration's goals of developing clean, renewable energy supplies, and creating new jobs and economic opportunities.

Secretary of Energy Chu
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu

"American families and businesses are struggling in a recession and an increasingly competitive global economy. The Recovery Act was designed to rescue the economy from the immediate dangers it faces while rebuilding its fundamentals, with an eye toward new industry and opportunity," Secretary Chu said. "To help meet these challenges, the Recovery Act invests significant dollars to put people to work to spur a revolution in clean energy technologies."

The DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will provide technical assistance to selected recipients, including concepts, best practices, planning, financial approaches, policy guidance, and recognition to help communities rapidly plan and deploy utility-scale renewable energy systems that provide clean, reliable and affordable energy supplies for their communities, while creating jobs and new economic development opportunities. The projects will demonstrate how multiple renewable energy technologies, including solar, wind, biomass and geothermal systems, can be deployed at scale to supply clean energy to communities.

DOE anticipates each project will leverage significant investment, including public and private sector investment in renewable energy systems.  The projects funded under this FOA are expected to create jobs and avoid 50,000 tons of carbon dioxide annually.

Up to $22 million in DOE funding is available for these awards in fiscal year 2010.  DOE anticipates making up to 4 awards totaling up to $21.45 million, and expects matching funds from public and private investment of $22 million or more.

Successful applicants will be awarded financial assistance to support the implementation of an integrated renewable energy deployment plan for a community, and the construction of renewable energy systems.

Completed applications are due September 3, 2009. DOE will select awardees by the end of November 2009.

To access the application form and the official funding opportunity announcement:

  1. Go to the FedConnect web site.
  2. Click the Search Public Opportunities link.
  3. Enter "DE-FOA-0000122" as the Search Criteria Title.
  4. Click Search.
  5. Click on the Title link of DE-FOA-0000122

Wind Energy Promotion Act Introduced in Congress

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representative Tim Walz and House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson have introduced the Wind Energy Promotion Act, which will make it easier for individuals and small groups to take advantage of tax incentives that encourage wind energy production. Walz, a freshman member of the Agriculture Committee, said he heard about the need for the legislation while he was holding a series of Farm Bill forums throughout southern Minnesota in February and April.

Rep. Walz visits the Bingham Lake Wind Farm to discuss energy policy.
Rep. Walz (4th from left) visits the Bingham Lake
Wind Farm to discuss energy policy.

"Raising capital for wind energy projects is difficult, because many residents of rural America do not qualify for the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), which is one of the major incentives to promote wind energy production," said Walz. "This legislation will expand renewable energy production by leveling the playing field for individuals in rural America who are looking to enter the industry. Everyone wins if we pass this legislation."

"We think it is unfortunate that our tax code makes it easy for corporations to receive the Production Tax Credit, but not for individuals in rural America who wish to do the same," said Chairman Peterson. "I'm pleased to join Congressman Walz in introducing this legislation to make our tax code fairer and to bring the benefits of renewable energy investments to more of our rural citizens."

Currently, the PTC provides a 1.9 cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax credit for individuals who invest in wind energy generation. However, only passive income—such as income from investments—may be offset by the PTC; someone who merely invests in a wind farm cannot receive the PTC unless they have other sources of passive income to offset.

The practical effect of this passive loss restriction is that currently, PTCs are only useful to corporations and to individuals with large amounts of taxable investment income. As a result, most wind energy investments today are made by foreign multi-national companies and not by groups of Americans who want to join together to produce renewable energy.

The Walz-Peterson Wind Energy Promotion Act would make it easier for Americans to invest in wind energy projects by expanding the eligibility of who can receive benefits from the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit. This legislation would not limit the ability of the current beneficiaries of the PTCs to continue receiving them.

The Wind Energy Promotion Act would amend the tax code to allow up to $40,000 of the PTC to be used against ordinary income. This "passive loss exemption" is similar to a $25,000 passive loss exemption that currently exists to encourage investments in oil and gas development and real estate.

The Wind Energy Promotion Act also addresses the relationship of the PTC to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT). Because allowing the PTC to apply to ordinary income will force some middle-class taxpayers to file for the AMT, this legislation would change the tax law to eliminate the effect of the AMT on income derived from using the PTC.

Details of the Wind Energy Promotion Act are available in the document links below.

Department of Treasury Releases Cash Grant Guidelines

Washington, D.C., July 9, 2009 - The United States Treasury Department posted guidance documents for the cash grant program created in section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) including:

  • Program guidance document
  • Terms and conditions
  • Sample application

It is expected that the Section 1603 program will temporarily fill the gap created by the diminished investor demand for tax credits. In this way, the near term goal of creating and retaining jobs is achieved, as well as the long-term benefit of expanding the use of clean and renewable energy and decreasing our dependency on non-renewable energy sources. Details are available on the Treasury web site: 

Interested applicants please note:

The election to receive the cash grant is an irrevocable election that prohibits an applicant from also receiving the Production Tax Credit (PTC) or the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). For more guidance on electing the ITC or cash grant in lieu of the PTC, see the IRS Notice 2009-52:

Identifying whether the PTC, ITC or cash grant will be most financially beneficial to a particular project depends on a number of factors and will require a thorough financial analysis of a project. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) issued a report analyzing the various benefits of the PTC versus the ITC. That report assumes the value to the developer of the ITC and the cash grant are the same. You can download a copy of the report from the Windustry web site:

Obama Administration on Rural Tour

WASHINGTON D.C., June 30, 2009 - President Obama announced the launch of his Administration's Rural Tour to hold discussions on how communities, states, and the federal government can work together to help strengthen rural America. During July, August and September top Administration officials will fan out across the nation to hold a series of discussion on how to best implement programs and funds made available by The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack on Rural Tour in Kentucky in May
Secretary of Agriculture Vilsack on
Rural Tour in Kentucky in May.

The Rural Tour is a continuation of a program begun by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that had recently held forums across the country. Cabinet members on the Rural Tour led by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack include Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, and others.

"A healthy American economy depends on a prosperous rural America," President Obama said. "Rural America is vast and diverse, and different communities face different challenges and opportunities. That's why we're going out to hear directly from the people of rural America about their needs and concerns and what my Administration can do to support them."

These events will serve as listening sessions to focus on such issues as broad-based rural health, economic development, infrastructure, education, energy, natural resources, and agriculture. Officials will share some of the Administration's ideas about how to nurture strong, robust, and vibrant rural communities, and they will report back to the President about the state of rural America and what the Administration can do to strengthen it.

Rural Tour Schedule

July 1 - Vice President Joe Biden and Secretaries Gary Locke and TomVilsack will travel to Wattsburg, PA, to discuss rural broadband.

July 16 - Secretaries Ray LaHood and Tom Vilsack will travel to La Crosse, WI, to discuss rural economic development.

July 18 - Secretaries Steven Chu and Tom Vilsack will travel to Ringgold, VA, to discuss green jobs and a new energy economy, with a focus on weatherization and carbon sequestration.

July 20 - Secretaries Kathleen Sebelius, Eric Shinseki, Hilda Solis and Tom Vilsack will travel to St. John's Parish, LA, to discuss rural healthcare.

August 12 - Secretaries Steven Chu, Shaun Donovan, Arne Duncan, Ken Salazar and Tom Vilsack will travel to Bethel, AK, to discuss rural infrastructure, green jobs and a new energy economy, as well as climate change.

August 16 - Secretaries Ken Salazar and Tom Vilsack will travel to Zanesville, OH, to discuss green jobs and a new energy economy, with a focus on renewable energies.

August 17 - Secretaries Arne Duncan and Tom Vilsack will travel to Hamlet, NC, to discuss rural education.

September 28 - Secretaries Ken Salazar and Tom Vilsack will travel to Scottsbluff, NE, to discuss production agriculture.

September 30 - Secretaries Shaun Donovan and Tom Vilsack will travel to Las Cruces, NM, to discuss rural infrastructure.

For additional information visit the Rural Tour web site.

American Clean Energy and Security Act

Bill fights global warming and helps farmers and landowners

The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454), designed to create clean energy jobs, achieve energy independence, reduce global warming pollution and transition to a clean energy economy, is expected to be brought to a vote in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, June 26, prior to Congress's Fourth of July recess. The bill includes a cap-and-trade system requiring companies to buy carbon emissions permits from the federal government, and it sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent in 2020, by 42 percent in 2030, and by 83 percent in 2050.

UPDATE:  On Friday afternoon, June 26, 2009, the U.S.  House of Representatives passed the Clean Energy bill as proposed by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) with a vote of 219 for and 212 against.

U.S. Representative Collin Peterson U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (middle), chairman of the House Agriculture Committee
U.S. Representative Collin Peterson (middle),
chairman of the House Agriculture Committee

The bill has gained support from utilities, energy companies, labor unions, environmentalists, and farm groups. House Agriculture Chairman Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) led negotiations for a shift in agency oversight of rural carbon offset programs from the EPA to the USDA, which would pay farmers and  landowners for environmentally friendly projects.

"We have an agreement finally after all these days. We have something that I think works for agriculture." said Representative Peterson. "A lot of the work we did was getting this offset program so it would work. Energy and Commerce and EPA did not get what farmers do.... We really believe that the ag people are the ones that know the most about this and are the ones that should do this."

Peterson said farmers will be able to mitigate higher energy prices by selling pollution offsets earned by tilling and conservation practices that keep carbon dioxide stored in the soil. Another revision to the bill that Peterson negotiated would give rural electric cooperatives, and other small utilities that have under 4 million megawatts of capacity, a portion of the pollution allowances that businesses would use to meet the bill’s cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

An analysis by the Center for American Progress and University of Massachusetts projects that the bill, combined with the clean-energy investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, could generate $150 billion in annual public- and private-sector clean-energy investments. The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy report projects that those investments could create 1.7 million new jobs.

"We all know why this is so important," said President Barack Obama about the Clean Energy bill. "The nation that leads in the creation of a clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the 21st century's global economy. That's what this legislation seeks to achieve—it's a bill that will open the door to a better future for this nation. And that's why I urge members of Congress to come together and pass it." 

Read more about the Clean Energy bill with these resources from the Center for American Progress:

The American Clean Energy and Security Act Myths and Facts

The Economic Benefits of Investing in Clean Energy

Climate Progress blog discussion on the Clean Energy act

Eight Reasons for Farmers to Support Global Warming Actions


The Clean Energy Economy

Green Jobs growing faster than other sectors

There's lots of talk about Green Jobs, but is it just hype or can the renewable energy industries really help us out of the economic crisis? Over the past decade the clean energy economy grew some 2-1/2 times faster than the overall jobs market in the U.S., according to a new report by The Pew Charitables Trusts. With continuing business failures and job losses slowing economic recovery, a thriving energy economy fueling green jobs—a mix of white and blue-collar positions, from scientists and engineers to electricians, machinists and teachers—is good news for our economic future.

The Clean Energy Economy: Repowering Jobs, Businesses and Investments Across America reports how clean energy jobs increased at a national rate of 9.1 percent between 1998-2007, while traditional jobs grew by only 3.7 percent, and manufacturing jobs declined by nearly 21 percent over that period. By 2007, more than 68,000 businesses in the United States had generated more than 770,000 jobs in the clean energy economy, including the sectors of Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Environmentally Friendly Production, Conservation and Pollution Mitigation, and Training and Support.

“The clean energy economy is poised for explosive growth,” said Lori Grange, interim deputy director of the Pew Center on the States. “These jobs are driving economic growth and environmental sustainability at a time when America needs both. There is a potential competitive advantage for federal and state policy leaders who act now to spur jobs, businesses and investments in the clean energy sector.” Pew’s research forecasts that the clean energy economy will expand significantly, driven by increasing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and federal and state policy reforms. Between 2006 and 2008, about $12.6 billion of venture capital investments was directed toward clean technology businesses in 40 states and the District of Columbia.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia were surveyed with California and Texas leading the lists for Clean Energy economic activity. As of 2007, California had 125,390 jobs in 10,209 businesses, and Texas had 55,646 jobs in 4,802 businesses. What’s surprising and really encouraging is how a state like Michigan has been buoyed by green jobs growth while in a general state of decline. By the end of 2009, Michigan will have lost more than a half million jobs, according to state projections, with more than one in 10 workers unemployed. But while jobs overall have been declining over the past decade, the state ranked 10th in the nation with 22,674 jobs in 10,209 businesses in clean energy.

“Manufacturers of green products like wind turbines can find everything they need in Michigan: technological knowhow, factory space, skilled workers, transportation systems, and great universities.”
— Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm

“While many people will continue working in GM plants building the next generation of vehicles, others will be leaving. And for them, we will help however we can, from extended unemployment benefits to job retraining,” said Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, commenting on the General Motors bankruptcy. “Now we have to continue our ongoing efforts to shape a new future for Michigan, one in which we will use our manufacturing expertise to achieve a national goal of energy independence. Five years ago, we began positioning Michigan to lead a green industrial revolution. We provided tax incentives and grants for making green products. We created venture capital for green start-up companies, and we restructured job training programs to give workers the skills for green jobs. Manufacturers of green products like wind turbines or advanced batteries can find everything they need in Michigan: technological knowhow, factory space, skilled workers, transportation systems, and great universities.”

The state recently issued it’s own Michigan Green Jobs Report 2009 that shows even more growth boasting 109,067 total green jobs, both direct and support positions, among private sector employers. That report uses a broader definition for green jobs that includes agriculture and natural resource conservation, clean transportation and fuels including advanced battery production, along with more green-related industries and occupations.

Beyond boosting the numbers, the broad methodology for the Michigan study helps reveal trends on how the transition to a green economy might take place. From an occupational perspective, they found over 70 percent of direct green workers fall into three broad categories including production (28 percent), engineering (24 percent), and construction (19 percent). The executive summary for the report states: “We may be at a tipping point of awareness, understanding, and opportunities that a green economy can provide for Michigan’s workforce, businesses, and communities.

Investments in a clean energy economy will drive down the unemployment rate and provide job opportunities to Americans across all skill and education levels according to a new report from the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (PERI), commissioned by Green For All and the National Resources Defense Council. Green Prosperity: How Clean-Energy Policies Can Fight Poverty and Raise Living Standards in the United States finds that clean energy investments can provide significant new opportunities at all levels of the U.S. economy, including "pathways out of poverty" with opportunities for advancement to low-income workers.

Overall, these reports suggest that building a clean energy economy could create three times more jobs within the United States than spending the same amount of money within our existing fossil fuel infrastructure. Moreover, a clean energy economy would foster a wide range of economic and environmental gains with energy-efficient buildings, fuel-efficient vehicles, clean renewable energy sources, and revitalized industrial sectors. 

Read the The Clean Energy Economy report.

Read the Michigan Green Jobs Report 2009.

Read the Green Prosperity report.

Small Wind Grew 78% in 2008

The U.S. market for small wind turbines—those with capacities of 100 kilowatts (kW) and less—grew 78% in 2008, with 17.3 megawatts (MW) of new electrical capacity, according to the 2008 AWEA Small Wind Global Market Study released by the American Wind Energy Association.

Though small in comparison to the 8,500 MW of commercial-scale wind capacity added last year, the growth is significant with more than 10,000 turbines installed by businesses, schools, colleges, municipalities, and residential homeowners. Wind energy is now seen as a cost-efficient solution for energy needs, as 42% of all new power generation facilities in the U.S. last year included wind power. Public concern about energy independence and environmental issues have also played a role in this developing market.

“Consumers are looking for affordable ways to improve their energy security and reduce their personal carbon footprint,” said Ron Stimmel, AWEA’s Small Wind Advocate. “Small wind technology can be an answer to that search. As government policies have caught up with consumer interest, we’re seeing people all across the U.S. take advantage of this abundant, domestic natural resource and U.S. manufacturers have been able to meet this increasing demand.”

This unprecedented growth combined with the new 30% federal tax credit for small wind energy systems has U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers scaling up for even more growth in the future. The industry predicts a 30-fold increase in the US market over the next five years, even under current economic conditions.

USDA REAP Energy Grants Available

Grants to help farmers and ranchers with energy audits, energy efficiency, and renewable energy projects

USDA logo

Farmers, ranchers, and other rural small businesses have until July 31, 2009 to apply for grants or loan guarantees to assist with energy efficiency and renewable energy projects through the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) —(Section 9007 of the 2008 Farm Bill, formerly Section 9006 under the 2002 Farm Bill). REAP will provide funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to conduct energy audits and feasibility studies for renewable energy systems, for renewable energy development assistance, and to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.

Farmers and ranchers who earn 50 percent or more of their gross income from agricultural operations are eligible along with small businesses in rural areas and some rural electric cooperatives. Energy efficiency projects can include retrofitting, replacing, or purchasing lighting and insulation to reduce energy consumption. Energy projects can include wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydropower or other renewable sources. Projects cannot be used for any residential purpose.

Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture
Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture

“We're trying to create strong rural communities,” stated Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, former governor of Iowa, in a C-SPAN Washington Journal interview on May 28, 2009. “There is tremendous potential both in the biofuels area as well as in the wind, solar, renewable energy area for resurgence in those smaller and mid-sized operations. It's important for us to continue to invest in biofuels and renewable energy to provide additional income sources for the use of land. As we talk about the clean energy future of this country with climate change, I think they'll be other potential opportunities for income for our farm families.”

The grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Grants are limited to $50,000 for renewable energy feasibility studies. Grants are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements. Grant requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements will be considered. At least 20% of the grant funds awarded must be for grants of $20,000 or less.

Detailed descriptions of the program provisions, application instructions, and USDA Rural Development State Office contacts are available in the Federal Register Notice (Vol. 74, No. 99, Tuesday, May 26, 2009). Information including a useful B&I/REAP comparison chart for loans and grants is available in the REAP/RES/EEI Annoucenment on the USDA web site.

Synopses, forms, and online application systems are available at the web site:


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