A wind turbine in Fort Benton, solar arrays in Polson, irrigation energy system upgrades in the Gallatin Valley. All over Montana, energy-saving technologies are becoming part of the landscape because of local initiatives and some state-wide support.
For Montanans who have been thinking about installing renewable energy equipment or energy efficiency upgrades, this fall may present a very unique and limited opportunity to move plans into action. The National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), in partnership with Montana USDA-RD, can help farmers, ranchers and rural businesses who want to cut their energy costs.
One of the few sources of state-wide financing for clean energy projects is the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP is a loan and grant opportunity that can cover up to 75% of a project costs. Farms, ranches and businesses throughout Montana (except for Billings, Great Falls and Missoula) are eligible for REAP funding.
REAP grant and loan applications can cover most costs of an eligible renewable energy or energy efficiency project, but application preparation fees are NOT covered. “REAP applications aren’t for the faint-hearted,” said Al Kurki, NCAT’s coordinator of the Clean Energy Funding for Rural Montana project. “If a person needs help preparing an application, NCAT can cover half the preparation costs for new REAP applications submitted between now and December 1, 2011.”
To qualify for the cost-share funds, the applicant needs to make an arrangement with one of a half- dozen grant-packagers in the state and then submit an application to their area USDA-RD office by December 1, 2011.
NCAT has information on other funding sources that could be used for possible matching sources with REAP applications. For more information on this one-time opportunity and the names of grant/loan application packagers who can assist you, contact Al Kurki at 406-449-0104 or [email protected] . For more information on the REAP grants and loans program, go to http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/MT_reap.html .