|MAESTRO, a program provided by the U.S. Dept. of Energy through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is now available for eligible farmers. The program provides technical assistance in the creation of an energy management plan (EMP), including recommendations of energy efficient equipment that will save farmers money.
Use of the program involves fees that will be reimbursed when energy-saving equipment is installed. For instance, for a fee of $250 the farmer will receive suggestions on how to save money on his whole farm. The equipment installed must save more in energy costs than than the value of the EMP plus the equipment.
At no charge technical assistance (TA) will look at the efficiency of a specific technology or practice rather than the whole farm. Farmers who receive an EMP or TA and want to install the recommended energy-saving equipment are able to receive a grant up to 75% of the total project cost, not to exceed $5,000.
Eligible farmers also can receive an energy audit on their home for a fee of $125. The fee will be reimbursed after the installation of energy-saving equipment, as long as this equipment, the same as that for farming, saves more in energy costs than the value of the audit plus the equipment.
Two options exist to help finance the farm and farm residence installations: (1) MAESTRO will pay down the loan interest so that 3% financing is provided on loans up to $50,000 to install the energy saving technology on the farm or in lieu of the reduced interest rate the amount provided to pay down interest may be applied to the loan principal as a down payment; or (2) MAESTRO will provide a 75% loan guarantee for loans up to $50,000.
Energy saving technologies must be installed no later than November 30, 2012. For more information phone the MAESTRO team at (800) 732-1399 or visit here.