MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (WBOY) — Starting on April 1, West Virginian agricultural producers and rural small businesses will be able to apply for a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) grant to install renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements.

According to a USDA release, the $1 billion in grants, which was announced Friday by USDA Rural Development West Virginia State Director Ryan Thorn, was made available under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and funding from the Inflation Reduction Act.

“This additional funding from the Inflation Reduction Act will provide businesses with climate smart solutions to reduce their energy consumption and bolster their bottom line,” said Thorn. “When we invest in our rural businesses and provide them with the support they need to grow and prosper, we are supporting the backbone of the American economy.”

Competitions will be held quarterly through Sept. 30, 2024.

“USDA is particularly interested in REAP projects that will help rural communities recover economically through more and better market opportunities and improved infrastructure, reduce climate pollution and increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, conserve and protect farmland, and invest in underserved communities,” the release said.

Until June 30 of each year, at least 20 percent of the available funds will be held back for grant requests of $20,000 or less, “including the grant portion of a combined grant and guaranteed loan request.”

The maximum federal share that can be requested is up to 50 percent of the total project cost, while the maximum grant is $1 million for renewable energy systems and $500,000 for energy-efficiency projects. “Any project in a designated energy community and/or submitted by an eligible tribal entity” can also apply for up to 50 percent of the total project cost, but all other projects can only apply for up to 25 percent of the total project cost, the release said.

$144.5 million of the funding will also be used to create an underutilized technology fund in the REAP program.

Those looking to discuss their project or ask questions about the application process can contact their United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development (RD) State Energy Coordinator.

Program guidance and application forms can be found here.

To learn more about submissions, see page 19239 of the March 31 Federal Register.