The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is increasing job prospects for geothermal drillers by making geothermal heating and cooling systems more affordable for potential customers.

More than $280 million is being made available to eligible applicants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). The agency is offering grants to rural agricultural producers and small business owners for up to 25 percent of project costs. The USDA is also making loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs available.

The financial resources have been made available for renewable energy system installations and energy efficiency improvements, including geothermal heating and cooling systems.

“Geothermal heat and cooling installations have only claimed a small percentage of REAP incentive funds available from the USDA,” says Geothermal Exchange Organization (GEO) President Doug Dougherty. “Along with available tax incentives, the REAP Program is a vital initiative that geothermal heat pump distributors, dealers and installers should pass on to their potential customers in the agricultural community.”

To be eligible for REAP assistance, renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. Energy efficiency improvement projects can include heating, cooling and ventilation among other things.

Application deadlines vary by project type and type of assistance requested. Details on how to apply are on page 78029 of the Dec. 29, 2014 Federal Register or are available by contacting state Rural Development offices.  

REAP was organized by Congress last year. No less than $50 million in annual funding is guaranteed for the duration of the five-year farm bill. The USDA has dedicated a total of $545 million toward more than 8,800 REAP projects across the nation since 2009. $361 million of that went toward more than 2,900 renewable energy systems.

For more information on REAP to share with customers, go to