On Wednesday May 4th, Secretary Tom Vilsack joined tribal leaders to discuss energy opportunities across Indian Country at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Tribal Energy Summit here in Washington, DC. The event was a culmination of Energy Roundtables that had taken place across the country over the past few months and provided an opportunity for tribal leaders to hear from cabinet officials about energy programs across the United States Government.
The Secretary also discussed the importance of consultation and collaboration as we move forward with energy programs in Indian Country. One program in particular that was recently improved by Consultation with tribal leaders is the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The program helps rural businesses improve their energy efficiency, save money, and improve their bottom lines by paying to install energy efficiency and renewable energy production capacity. Through consultation we learned the REAP Program was difficult to use in Indian Country–only two successful Tribal applicants in nearly 10 years- because the definition for rural small business limited Tribes from accessing the program. We have since clarified this requirement to better work with Tribal enterprises and remain hopeful we can turn around our record with the current round of REAP funding. REAP is currently open for applications through June 15th or June 30th, depending on the type of project for which funding is requested.
The summit challenged people to think about how Departments can help provide assistance to Tribal energy projects across multiple Agency programs in centralized locations and drove home the importance of working together at all levels to build a nationwide renewable energy industry.
To apply for funding for the REAP Grant and Loan Program please contact your Rural Development State Office. To see what funding opportunities are available, see the Energy Matrix or contact a USDA Energy Coordinator for more information. Coordinator List.