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The ACRE3 program, in coordination with USDA NRCS-Colorado, announces the availability of funding twice a year typically in the Spring and Fall. Pre-applications accepted on a continuous basis.
Note: Download the application to your desktop and open/complete in Adobe Reader or Pro (not your web browser - which may prevent saving your form).S.01a RCPP Irrigation Hydropower Pre-Application Submit Completed Pre-Application
Please review this section first. Here, you can find details about the latest funding announcement, find out if hydropower might work on your farm, learn about the different funding programs and eligibility requirements, and download a comprehensive checklist of all the application materials to help you track your application process.
Project Developers should view the Hydro Navigation Guide Resources to download the Agricultural Hydropower Technical Manual, hydropower assessment and design tools, a project planning checklist, and other resources for project developers and program partners.
P.01 RCPP Hydro Program Flow Chart
Site eligibility requires sufficient hydropower resources (pressure and flow rate) and road access to the site. Hydroelectric projects also require access to nearby power lines as well as various permits, inspections, and agreements that are not required for hydro-mechanical projects.
Once a Statement of Intent to Apply has been submitted, a site assessment and feasibility study must be completed to confirm eligibility of the project and score the project for viability and funding.
Hydro-Mechanical Systems: Hydro-mechanical systems use hydro turbines and belt drives to operate center-pivot sprinkler systems equipped with Hydraulic Power Units (HPUs) rather than electric motors. These center pivots do not need electricity to operate, making them ideal for remote locations where electric power is not available. T-L Irrigation, one of the top 5 irrigation equipment providers in the U.S., is currently the only company that makes this type of center pivot. Hydro-mechanical systems require high-quality hydropower resources to match the requirements of the sprinkler system.
New power lines may cost $50,000 per mile or more to install. A hydro-mechanical system can eliminate this cost and the energy costs of operating a center-pivot sprinkler system. It typically takes one contractor about one to three months to design and install a new center pivot with a hydro-mechanical drive system after the feasibility study is completed.
Hydroelectric Systems: Hydroelectric systems can be installed on pressurized irrigation pipelines to directly offset electrical loads on the farm using a grid-connected, net-metered system. Most utilities limit the size of commercial net-metered systems to less than 25 kilowatts (kW). Hydroelectric systems use hydro turbines to operate a generator that produces “wild” DC or AC electricity. A package of electrical equipment and controls smooth-out the wild electricity and make it safe to transfer to the local utility or operate on-farm equipment.
Hydroelectric projects require access to a power line and appropriate, non-residential electric loads, such as water pumps, electric motor drive systems, or on-farm electric heating and cooling systems. It typically takes several contractors about six to twelve months to design and install a new hydroelectric system after the feasibility study is completed.
P.02 Hydro-mechancial vs Hydroelectric
The RCPP irrigation hydro program can provide technical assistance to help farmers upgrade their irrigation systems to save water and energy. Technical assistance is available to help applicants with the following:
Evaluate on-farm hydropower resources and options (site assessment and feasibility study).
Implement water efficiency improvements and practices.
Select qualified equipment for hydropower, pipelines, and sprinklers.
Identify qualified contractors for engineering, procurement, and construction.
Apply for permitting.
The RCPP irrigation hydro program provides funding through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and ACRE3 energy grant program. Additional funding is available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). ACRE3 funding will be awarded after funding has been approved for EQIP and REAP (if applicable). When applying for funding through these programs, please note that funding payments are on a reimbursement basis and upfront costs of the project are the responsibility of the applicant. Please note that federal tax incentives for renewable energy cannot be used together with payments from a federally funded program such as EQIP or REAP.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to eligible agricultural producers to plan and implement conservation practices that improve soil, water, plant, animal, air and related natural resources on agricultural land and non-industrial private forestland. EQIP may also help producers meet Federal, State, Tribal, and local environmental regulations. EQIP has three payment rates within the RCPP program: regular EQIP, EQIP special initiatives, and EQIP historically underserved.
To get started with EQIP, go to: www.nrcs.usda.gov/getstarted. Select “Service Center Locator” to find a local representative. Please request assistance through the RCPP hydro program.
This document describes EQIP project eligibility and criteria for the RCPP irrigation hydro program:
P.03a RCPP-EQIP Eligibility Criteria
EQIP payments are determined from the eligible conservation practices listed in the EQIP Practice Payment Schedule. Here are some examples of available practice codes:
Payments are based on the approved payment rate and the extent of the practice implemented as shown in the sample Payment Schedule below.
The ACRE3 program promotes the development and implementation of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects for Colorado’s agricultural producers and processors under the direction of the Colorado Agricultural Value-Added Development Board. The Colorado Department of Agriculture may award ACRE3 funds to projects for up to 25% of eligible project costs, not to exceed $25,000 per project. The ACRE3 program will provide technical services to agricultural producers to complete the project development process described in this navigation guide. This document describes ACRE3 project eligibility and criteria:
P.03b ACRE3 Eligibility Criteria
The USDA Rural Development (RD) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP grants can be used to purchase or install hydropower systems to reduce energy costs and consumption and help meet the Nation’s critical energy needs. REAP has two types of funding assistance:
REAP grants provide up to 25% of eligible project costs, including renewable energy equipment and installation costs. REAP grants and loans can be combined for a maximum of 75% of project costs.
Please note: When completing the REAP application, all hydro projects approved for the RCPP irrigation hydro program should always be categorized as Renewable Energy Systems for Energy Replacement (not for Energy Generated or Energy Saved) unless the estimated energy production exceeds the on-farm energy needs. In that case, the project should be categorized under Renewable Energy Systems for Energy Generation.
While the minimum REAP grant request is $2,500 and competition is lower for requests under $20,000, we encourage applicants to consider that the amount of work required for small grants is nearly the same as that required for large grant requests. Before applying for a REAP grant, the applicant should look over the application and REAP checklist to estimate the number of hours that it will take to meet the application requirements both before and after the application is submitted.
This document describes REAP project eligibility and criteria:
P.03c REAP Eligibility Criteria
Participation in the RCPP irrigation Hydropower Program precludes you from receiving renewable energy tax credits from the IRS. However, several other tax incentives, financing options, renewable energy policies, and local programs may provide additional assistance with hydro projects. The attached brochure provides information to help you take advantage of these other opportunities.
P.04 Renewable Energy Incentives and Policies in Colorado
As an aid for tracking the process through the RCPP Program, a checklist of all forms and items needed is attached. Some items are universally needed for EQIP, ACRE3 and REAP; however, each program has its own forms as well. The checklist includes all items needed for the applicant, service providers and contractor.
S.01b RCPP Hydro Program - Master Checklist
Presented within is a step by step process for the applicant, service providers and partners to follow in completion of the application and project development process. The RCPP Program Checklist is included and it is strongly recommended that the applicant print this and track completion in conjunction with the step by step process. Note that not all steps will be completed by the applicant, service providers and partners.
Submit Your Pre-Application
S.02.1b Hydro-mechanical Toolbox Example
S.02.2a Hydroelectric Toolbox
S.02.2b Hydroelectric Toolbox Example
NRCS will use the Hydro Screening to evaluate project eligibility and qualify the project to move forward with the technical report.S.03a RCPP Hydro Screening Tool
S.03b RCPP Hydro Screening Tool Example
The Program Manager or a program partner performs a Technical Report to evaluate the potential project in more detail than the Site Assessment. The purpose of the Technical Report is a feasibility study of the purposed project. Both the Technical Report and the Site Assessment will become part of the EQIP, ACRE3 and REAP applications.
S.04.0 Hydro Project Info Sheet
S.04.1 Hydro-mechanical Technical Report Template
S.04.2 Hydroelectric Technical Report Template
If the Site Assessment and Technical Report results meet program criteria, the applicant prepares and submits the EQIP application to USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS). A full application is not required for ACRE3; however, there are additional documents required for ACRE3 at the time of application.
S.05.1b AD-1026 - Highly Erodible Land
S.05.1c CCC 941 - AGI (Less than $900,000)
S.05.1d CCC 901 - Members Information
S.05.2b NRCS Form CPA-300 -Authorization for release
S.05.2c IRS form W-9
USDA Rural Development State Office
Denver Federal Center Building 56, Room 2300
Denver, CO 80225-0426
Applicant completes only one of the three attached REAP applications depending the project cost:
S.07.2a RD REAP Scoresheet
S.07.2b RD REAP Scoresheet Example
S.07.2c RD REAP Scoresheet Instructions
S.07.3a RD REAP - SF 424 Application for Federal Assistance
S.07.3b RD REAP - SF 424 Instructions
S.07.3c RD REAP - SF 424c - Budget Information
S.07.3d RD REAP - SF 424d - Assurances-Construction
Section 106 Review- For REAP Hydroelectric Projects Only
S.07.4a RD 1940-20 -Request for Environmental Information
S.07.4b RD 1940-20 Example
S.08.1a FERC NOI-Qualifying Conduit Hydro Application
S.08.1b FERC NOI-Qualifying Conduit Example
S.08.1c FERC NOI Process
S.08.1d Instructions for Topo Maps and Google Earth Images
Contact your state & local utilities to see if any permitting is required.
Contact Your Local Rural Electric Cooperative
Contact Your Municipal Utility
Xcel Energy - How to Interconnect
S.08.2a Utility Net Metering Agreement Example
S.08.2b Utility Interconnection Agreement Example
S.08.2c DMEA Net Metering Policy 2014
S.08.2d DMEA Net Metering Application
S.14.1 NRCS-CPA-1245 - Practice Approval and Payment Application
Completed REAP forms will be submitted to:
USDA Rural Development State Office
Denver Federal Center
Building 56, Room 2300
Denver, CO 80225-0426
Contact the ACRE3 program Energy Specialist with questions about the program.