As of January 26, 2021

Below are the details of the current U.S. Government Funding Programs and Resources available to support companies and projects in renewable energy, the bioeconomy and energy efficiency.

Our assistance in obtaining grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other resources is led by Bill Hagy, a retired United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development expert.  Bill spent over three decades at the US Department of Agriculture progressing from a field agent to serving as Acting Under Secretary for Rural Development.  He spent his last three years at the agency as the Special Assistant for Renewable Energy to Former United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack where he advised on policy matters relating to alternative/renewable energy development.  He has deep knowledge of federal loan and funding programs and leads our services to clients seeking to access these programs that provide financial assistance for research, development, demonstration, and commercial scale renewable energy/ energy efficiency projects.

At Lee Enterprises Consulting, we have professionals dedicated to assisting our clients with grants, loans, loan guarantees, and other forms of assistance. We have over 150 subject-matter experts to assist with both the technical and business expertise needed for various programs.

Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program

DESCRIPTION: Business & Industry Loan Guarantee Program offers loan guarantees up to $25 million to support rural businesses.  The purpose of the program is to improve, develop, or finance business, industry, and employment and improve the economic and environmental climate in rural communities; the conservation, development, and use of water for aquaculture purposes; and reducing reliance on non-renewable energy resources through development and construction renewable energy systems.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: For-Profit Businesses; Nonprofits; Cooperatives; Federally-Recognized Tribe; Public Bodies.

AVAILABLE FUNDING AND APPLICATION WINDOW:  Applications are received year-round. The amount of FY 2021 funding has not been announced at this time.

DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program- Bioenergy

OPPORTUNITY: DOE Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program- Bioenergy

DESCRIPTION: The Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) has a mission to help transform the Nation’s renewable and abundant biomass resources into cost-competitive, high-performance biofuels, bioproducts, and biopower. BETO is focused on forming partnerships with key stakeholders to develop technologies for advanced biofuels production from lignocellulosic and algal biomass as well as waste resources. In FY 2021, BETO is focusing on broadening participation-related topics. Grant applications are sought only in the following subtopics:

  1. Small Business Bioenergy Technologies Increasing Community Partnerships

This subtopic encourages submission of innovative research proposals from bioenergy small businesses to develop a community-scale preliminary design package of their products and/or processes and engage community stakeholders to assess desirability and feasibility of the small business’ proposed design.

  1. Cultivating a More Competitive Bioeconomy Through Strengthening Small Business Workforces

This subtopic solicits proposals that pilot a research-driven workforce development program or tool that can be widely applicable for the bioeconomy, establishing a partnership with business experts in bioenergy and/or inclusive workforce development.

All applications to this topic must:

  • Include projections for price and/or performance improvements that are tied to a baseline (i.e. MYPP and/or state of the art products or practices);
  • Propose a tightly structured program which includes technical milestones that demonstrate clear progress, are aggressive but achievable, and are quantitative;
  • Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the proposed innovation with respect to existing commercially available products or solutions;
  • Include a preliminary cost analysis;
  • Provide a path to scale up in potential Phase II follow on work;
  • Fully justify all performance claims with thoughtful theoretical predictions or experimental data; and
  • Be based on sound scientific principles (i.e. abides by the law of thermodynamics).



Topics Released:              Monday, November 9, 2020

Funding Opportunity Announcement Issued:      Monday, December 14, 2020

Letter of Intent Due Date:            Monday, January 04, 2021

Application Due Date:    Monday, February 22, 2021

Award Notification Date:              Monday, May 17, 2021*

* Date Subject to Change

National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Methods Development in Natural Products Research (SBIR/STTR)

DESCRIPTION: The purpose of this NOSI is to support small businesses for stimulation of technological innovation in natural products research. For the purposes of this NOSI, natural products include prebiotic, probiotic, herbal, botanical, microbial, and animal sources as well as extracts or constituents derived from them. Natural products offer a diverse reservoir of biologically active components.


AVAILABLE FUNDING AND APPLICATION WINDOW: Maximum Phase I award is $256,580.  First Available due date : September 05, 2020; Expiration  due date: September 06,2023

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)

DESCRIPTION: Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides grants and loan guarantees for the purpose of purchasing and installing Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements.  In addition, loan guarantee funds are available for Energy Efficient Equipment and Systems to agricultural producers to purchase and install energy efficient equipment and systems for agricultural production and processing.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: The borrower must be an Agricultural Producer or Rural Small Business.

AVAILABLE FUNDING AND APPLICATION WINDOW:  The Fiscal Year 2021 Notice of Solicitation of Applications is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow potential applicants time to submit applications. The maximum grant for any one entity is $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvement projects.  The maximum loan guarantee is $25 million.

Grant only applications must be filed by March 31, 2021

Combination grant and loan guarantee applications must be filed by March 31, 2021.

Loan Guarantee applications can be filed any time during the year.

Title 17 Innovative Energy Loan Guarantee Program

DESCRIPTION: Program helps finance catalytic, replicable, and market-ready renewable energy and efficient energy technologies.

ELIGIBLE PROJECTS: A project must meet the following four eligibility requirement to qualify: Innovative Technology; Greenhouse Gas Benefits; Located in the United States; and have Reasonable Prospect of Repayment.

AVAILABLE FUNDING AND APPLICATION WINDOW: Up to $3.0 billion in loan guarantee authority is available.  Applications are received year-round.

USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS)

OPPORTUNITY: USDA Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Sustainable Agricultural Systems (SAS)

DESCRIPTION: Request for Applications (RFA) must focus on approaches that promote transformational changes in the U.S. food and agriculture system. NIFA seeks creative and visionary applications that take a systems approach for projects focused on the themes in the USDA Science Blueprint: (1) sustainable agricultural intensification; (2) agricultural climate adaptation; (3) value-added innovation; and/or (4) food and nutrition translation. These projects are expected to significantly improve the supply of affordable, safe, nutritious, and accessible agricultural products, while fostering economic development and rural prosperity in America.

This RFA has two program area priorities, each with different eligibility requirements. A9201 invites only integrated project (must include research, education, and extension) applications with limited eligibility. A9211 invites only research project applications with wide eligibility.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: 1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, For-profit Organizations Other Than Small Businesses, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Individuals, Native American Tribal Orgs, not Federally recognized Tribal Governments, Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed, Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS status, other than Institutions of Higher Ed, Private Institutions of Higher Ed, Small Business, State Agricultural Experiment Stations, State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed


Program Area Priority A9201: Thursday, April 1, 2021

Letter of Intent Deadline – January 7, 2021; Application Deadline – April 1, 2021

Program Area Priority A9211: Thursday, July 1, 2021

Letter of Intent Deadline – March 4, 2021; Application Deadline – July 1, 2021

Estimated Total Program Funding: $150,000,000

USDA Announces OneRD Loan Guarantee Regulation

USDA is now accepting applications for four key loan guarantee programs under the OneRD Guarantee Loan Initiative!

As a part of a series of regulatory reforms effective October 1, 2020, USDA has eliminated duplicative processes and has launched a common loan guarantee application for the Business & Industry Loan Guarantee Program, Rural Energy for America Loan Guarantee Program (REAP), Water & Waste Disposal Loan Guarantee Program, and the Community Facilities Guaranteed Loan Program.

As part of the new OneRD regulation, USDA has standardized requirements for credit reviews, loan processing, loan servicing and loss claims. These measures will make the application process simpler and faster.

These regulatory changes will allow USDA to:

  • Reduce the time it takes for the Department to issue the loan note guarantee;
  • Allow lenders to obtain approval for a loan note guarantee prior to the beginning of construction;
  • Increase the guarantee percentage to 80 percent for all programs

USDA Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical, and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance Program (Section 9003)

DESCRIPTION: USDA Section 9003 program provides loan guarantees up to $250 million to assist in the development, construction and retrofitting of new and emerging technologies. These technologies are: advanced biofuels, renewable chemicals and biobased products.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: Federal or state-chartered banks; Federally-recognized tribes; Cooperatives; Farm Credit Bank or other Farm Credit System institution with direct lending authority; Credit Unions subject to credit examination and supervision by a state agency or the National Credit Union Administration; The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation.

AVAILABLE FUNDING AND APPLICATION WINDOW:  Approximately $63 million of loan level funding plus carry over funding from previous years is available.  There are two application windows each year (April 1 and October 1) for the Phase I applications to be received.

USDA NIFA Organic Transitions (ORG)

OPPORTUNITY: USDA ORG.  USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) seeks applications to award competitive grants to address practices and systems particularly associated with organic crops, organic animal production, and organic systems that integrate crop and animal production.

DESCRIPTION: The overall goal of the Organic Transitions Program (ORG) is to support the development and implementation of research, extension and higher education programs to improve the competitiveness of organic livestock and crop producers, as well as those who are adopting organic practices. It is expected that all projects will integrate research, education and extension activities, as appropriate to project goals, although some projects may be weighted more heavily than others in one or more of these areas. However, all proposals should have activities and impact in research and at least one of the other areas: education and extension.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS FOR USDA ORG: 1862 Land-Grant Institutions, 1890 Land-Grant Institutions, 1994 Land-Grant Institutions, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, Private Institutions of Higher Ed, State Controlled Institutions of Higher Ed


Estimated Total Program Funding: $6,650,000

Range of Awards: $0-$600,00

Matching Funds Requirements: Minimum of 50 percent of total project costs.

Opening Date: December 23, 2020

Closing Date: March 15, 2021

USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative

OPPORTUNITY: USDA Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative

DESCRIPTION: The Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative (OREI) seeks to solve critical organic agriculture issues, priorities, or problems through the integration of research, education, and extension activities. The purpose of this program is to fund projects that will enhance the ability of producers and processors who have already adopted organic standards to grow and market high quality organic agricultural products. Priority concerns include biological, physical, and social sciences, including economics. The OREI is particularly interested in projects that emphasize research, education and outreach that assist farmers and ranchers with whole farm planning by delivering practical research-based information. Projects should plan to deliver applied production information to producers. Fieldwork must be done on certified organic land or on land in transition to organic certification, as appropriate to project goals and objectives. Refer to the USDA National Organic Program for organic production standards.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: Following entities are eligible: 1. State agricultural experiment stations; 2. colleges and universities; 3. university research foundations; 4. other research institutions and organizations; 5. Federal agencies; 6. national laboratories; 7. private organizations or corporations; 8. individuals who are United States citizens or nationals; or 9. any group consisting of 2 or more of the entities described in subparagraphs (1) through (8).

AVAILABLE FUNDING AND APPLICATION WINDOW: This is two-year period funding announcement for FY 2021 and FY 2022.   Closing Application Dates: FY 2021- Thursday, January 14, 2021; FY 2022- January 13, 2022.  Anticipated approximate funding amounts available:  FY 2021- $25 million; FY 2022- $30 million.

Funding awards range from $50,000 to $3 million depending on the nature of the project type.

USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program – Phase II

USDA Small Business Innovation Research Program – Phase II

OPPORTUNITY:  All Phase II projects must have previously completed a successful USDA Phase I project before applying for a Phase II grant. Success rates for applicants have been 50-60% for Phase II. Projects dealing with agriculturally-related manufacturing and alternative and renewable energy technologies are encouraged. USDA SBIR’s flexible research areas ensure innovative projects consistent with USDA’s vision of a healthy and productive nation in harmony with the land, air, and water. USDA SBIR has awarded over 2000 research and development projects since 1983, allowing hundreds of small businesses to explore their technological potential and providing an incentive to profit from the commercialization of innovative ideas.

DESCRIPTION: Only previous USDA-NIFA SBIR Phase I awardees who have not previously applied for Phase II support are eligible to apply for Phase II support through this FY 2021 RFA. This includes those awardees identified via a “novated” or “successor-in-interest” revised funding agreement. A Phase I project may only apply for a Phase II award once. If a Phase I awardee was unsuccessful in receiving a Phase II award with a previous application, then the awardee is not eligible to resubmit the proposal under this or a future Phase II program solicitation. The USDA SBIR program currently has no specific procurement focus, as a consequence USDA offers ten (10) solicitation topic areas that are intended to permit a broad spectrum of eligible and innovative science- and technology-based small businesses to compete for funding.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS:  Small Business Concern


Estimated Total Program Funding: $4,100,000

Range of Awards: $0-$650,000

Matching Funds Requirements:  No matching funds required.

Opening Date: December 28, 2020

Closing Date: May 03, 2021

VAPG Federal Funding Opportunity

OPPORTUNITY: USDA Seeks Applications for Grants to Help Agricultural Producers and Small Rural Businesses Develop and Market New Products in this Value Added Producer Grant (VAPG).

DESCRIPTION: The grants may be used to develop new products from raw agricultural products or to promote new markets for established products. Veterans, socially-disadvantaged groups, beginning farmers and ranchers, operators of small- and medium-sized family farms and ranches, and farmer and rancher cooperatives are given special priority.

ELIGIBLE APPLICANTS: Independent producers, agricultural producer groups, farmer- or rancher-cooperatives, and majority-controlled producer-based business ventures are eligible to apply for this program.


Approximately $33 million in grants is available under the Value-Added Producer Grant (VAPG) program. The Agency may also utilize any funding that becomes available through enactment of fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations.

Maximum Grant Amount: Planning Grants $75,000; Working Capital Grants: $250,000.

Matching Funds Requirements: 50 percent of total project costs.

Opening Date: December 21, 2020

Closing Date: March 22, 2021

  • Lee Enterprises Consulting’s 150 subject matter experts provide a broad spectrum of expertise to clients, and allows tailoring of interdisciplinary project teams to meet any project’s unique requirements.

  • Lee Enterprises Consulting’s project teams can be assembled cost-effectively, allowing clients to more efficiently manage projects with a single contract coordination point.

  • Lee Enterprises Consulting’s breadth brings focused, interdisciplinary solutions to support projects such as:
    • Implementing management and technical transitions following acquisitions or mergers
    • Performing a 3rd party independent review of your business plans or technology direction
    • Guiding you with experienced planning from bench, to scale up, to commercialization
    • Engineering and construction resource gaps using our specialists
    • Expanding into new product lines to diversify in traditional biofuel or chemical sectors
    • Implementing new technologies with a vendor-neutral perspective
    • Planning expansion into new geographies from the ground up
    • Providing interim leadership or project management

Contact us at (501)833-8511 or to discuss how Lee Enterprises Consulting might assist with your business or project needs.