By Janet McIlvaine
The University of Central Florida’s FSEC conducts energy audits, renewable energy assessments, and technical assistance for the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant and loan program which is specifically for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Any Florida agriculture operation or rural small business is eligible for FSEC support. The USDA subsidizes 75% of FSEC’s audit cost.
The audit includes an on-site visit to inventory energy use, utility bill analysis, evaluation of efficiency improvement options, projected annual energy savings, all summarized in a REAP-required Technical Report, and assistance with completing the technical portions of the application. Grants are eligible for up to 25% of eligible project costs and range from $2,500-$500,000 for renewable energy systems and $1,500-$250,000 for energy efficiency improvements.