Helping farmers and rural small businesses in Minnesota reduce costs and control energy expenses with energy efficiency and renewable energy is the focus of a new free program.

Clean Energy Resource Teams (CERTs) will help Minnesota farmers and rural small businesses explore projects, identify potential funding and financing options, and get assistance.

CERTs will help farms and businesses apply for USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which offers grants for 25 percent of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Applications are due Tuesday, June 30. The deadline for projects requesting grants of $20,000 ($80,000 total project cost) is Saturday, October 31.

CERTs has created sample applications to help people apply for REAP funding.

CERTs will also help farms and rural small businesses explore the possibility of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing.

With PACE, energy-saving measures pursued by the owners receive project financing and are repaid as a separate item on their property tax assessment for a set period. Read more.