The Energy Title (Title IX) encourages investments in alternative energy technology and production of renewable biomass for biofuels through education, research, and financial assistance programs; encourages the manufacture and production of other renewable biochemical and bio-based products through Federal procurement and financial assistance programs.
- The Biobased Markets Program (also known as BioPreferred) is expanded to require biobased-only procurement targets for supplies and services in Federal agencies, reporting of biobased products by procuring agencies, audits to ensure compliance, and a study of the economic impacts of the program.
- The Biobased Markets Program now includes forest products and will assist landowners in determining whether products are eligible for the “USDA Certified Biobased Product” label.
- The Biorefinery Assistance Program is now the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Assistance Program and adds coverage for the production of renewable chemicals, manufactured biobased products, and other biorefinery byproducts.
- The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) now includes a three-tiered loan and grant application process that sorts proposed projects according to the cost of the proposed activity.
- In addition, REAP can no longer provide funding for feasibility study grants, nor for blender pumps due to the exclusion of retail energy-delivery mechanisms in the modified definition of “renewable energy system.”
- Eligible materials under the Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) now include material collected or harvested directly from the National Forest System, Bureau of Land Management land, non-Federal land, and tribal lands in a manner that is consistent with conservation stewardship plans. Eligible materials also include woody material that is a byproduct of preventative treatment on non-contract acreage or harvested from Federal land in accordance with the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003.
- BCAP now allows enrollment of land under Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or Agricultural Conservation Easement Program contracts that are set to expire in any given fiscal year.
- The Community Wood Energy Program now promotes biomass consumer cooperatives, and offers grants to these cooperatives to assist consumers with services and provide discounts for the purchase of woody biomass heating systems, heating products, as well as the delivery and storage of heating products.
New Programs and Provisions
An Energy Efficiency Report for USDA Facilities will require analysis of energy use in USDA headquarters and major facilities, documentation of energy audits and efficiency projects conducted, and identification of potential energy savings projects.
Repealed Programs and Provisions
Rural Energy Self-Sufficiency Initiative; all program funding expired after fiscal year 2013.
Forest Biomass for Energy Program is repealed.
- Funding mandated in the 2014 Agricultural Act will allow the Biobased Markets Program (also known as BioPreferred) to continue promoting the use of biobased products. Mandatory funding of $3 million per year is provided for 2014-2018, up from $2 million per year under the 2008 Farm Act. Discretionary funding of $2 million per year is also authorized. BioPreferred is expanded to include mandatory reporting, auditing, impact assessment, and technical assistance for the procurement of biobased products by Federal agencies and their contractors. Funding increases will help with implementation of these additional program requirements.
- Explicit inclusion of renewable chemicals and biobased products in the Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program aims to enhance USDA’s efforts to increase demand for renewable commodities, expand manufacturing in rural communities, and support green jobs by encouraging advanced cellulosic biofuel technologies and renewable chemical/biobased product manufacturing. In addition, USDA is required to ensure that a wide range of technologies, products, and approaches are assisted through the program. Mandatory funding of $100 million for fiscal year 2014, and $50 million for fiscal years 2015 and 2016 is provided. Discretionary funding of $75 million is authorized for each fiscal year from 2014 to 2018. However, grants for demonstration projects are eliminated. Mandatory funding of biobased products manufacturing is limited to no more than 15 percent of funding made available in fiscal years 2014 and 2015. The program will take advantage of biorefinery byproducts by promoting the commercial-scale processing and manufacturing of secondary products such as construction materials, lubricants, and cleaners.
- The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) now organizes the grant process for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements into three tiers by cost of activity: 1) $80,000 and below, 2) between $80,001 and $199,999, and 3) $200,000 and above. The application, evaluation, and oversight processes become more comprehensive with each subsequent tier. Blender pumps and feasibility studies are no longer eligible for REAP funding. Councils (i.e. non-profit entities or affiliates) are now eligible to apply for energy audit and renewable energy development assistance grants. REAP expenditures have declined since funding peaked at $361 million in fiscal year 2010. Although program funding is reduced to $50 million in mandatory funding and $20 million in discretionary funding per fiscal year from 2014 through 2018, the program continues to provide assistance to agricultural producers and small businesses in rural America for adopting renewable energy and improving energy efficiency.
- The Biomass Crop Assistance Program (BCAP) promotes the production of cellulosic biofuels to meet Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) mandates. BCAP provides funding for crop and woody biomass production; and collection, harvest, storage, and transportation (CHST), as well as the establishment of crop and forest lands for biomass production. Expanding the types and sites of biomass production could help ensure a continual supply of feedstock. In the 2008 Farm Act, BCAP was authorized “such sums as necessary,” funded through the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC). However, starting in fiscal year 2010 after a $248-million outlay, congressional action capped program funding well below projected demand, and suspended the CHST component entirely. As a result, program outlays totaled $24 million in fiscal year 2011 and $16 million in fiscal year 2012. BCAP will receive mandatory funding of $25 million annually for fiscal years 2014 through 2018. The Secretary is required to spend between 10 and 50 percent of these funds on CHST and technical assistance.
- The Community Wood Energy Program creates Biomass Consumer Cooperatives, and provides matching-funds grants up to $50,000 for establishing or expanding these consumer membership organizations. The cooperatives will help incorporate woody biomass energy systems into public facilities owned and operated by State and local governments. Funding is authorized at $5 million each fiscal year through 2018.