7 CFR § 4280.103 - Definitions.

§ 4280.103 Definitions.

The following definitions are applicable to the capitalized terms used in this part.

Administrator. The Administrator of Rural Business-Cooperative Service within the Rural Development Mission Area of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

Agency. The Rural Business-Cooperative Service or successor agency assigned by the Secretary of Agriculture to administer the Rural Energy for America Program. References to the National Office, Finance Office, State Office, or other Agency offices or officials should be read as prefaced by “Agency” or “Rural Development” as applicable.

Agricultural producer. A person, including non-profits, directly engaged in the production of agricultural products through labor management and operations, including the cultivating, growing, and harvesting of plants and crops (including farming); breeding, raising, feeding, or housing of livestock (including ranching); forestry products; hydroponics; nursery stock; or aquaculture, whereby 50 percent or greater of their gross income is derived from the operations. The percentage is calculated as the average of gross agricultural operations income of the concern divided by the gross total income of the concern for the five most recent years. If the concern has been in operation for less than 60 months, use average gross agricultural operations income and gross total income for as long as the concern has been in operation.

Anaerobic digester. A Renewable Energy System that uses animal waste or other renewable biomass and may include other organic substrates to produce digestate and biogas that may be sold in a gaseous or compressed liquid state or used to produce thermal or electrical energy.

Applicant.

(1) Except for EA and REDA grants, the agricultural producer or rural small business that is seeking a grant, or a combination of a grant and guaranteed loan, under this subpart.

(2) For EA and REDA grants, a unit of State, Tribal, or local government; a land-grant college or university or other institution of higher education; a rural electric cooperative; a public power entity; council; or an Instrumentality of a State, Tribal, or local government that is seeking an EA or REDA grant under this subpart.

Bioenergy project. A RES that produces fuel, biogas, thermal energy, or electric power from a renewable biomass source only.

Biofuel. A fuel derived from renewable biomass.

Biogas. Gaseous fuel (including landfill and sewage waste treatment gas) derived from the degradation and decomposition of renewable biomass.

Byproduct. An incidental or secondary product, regardless of whether it has a readily identifiable commercial use or value, generated under normal operations of the proposed project that can be reasonably measured and monitored.

Commercially available. A system that meets the requirements of either paragraph (1) or (2) of this definition.

(1) A domestic or foreign system that:

(i) Has both a proven and reliable operating history and proven performance data for at least 1 year specific to the use and operation to the proposed application;

(ii) Is based on established design and installation procedures and practices and is replicable;

(iii) Has professional service providers, trades, large construction equipment providers, and laborers who are familiar with installation procedures and practices;

(iv) Has proprietary and balance of system equipment and spare parts that are readily available;

(v) Has service that is readily available to properly maintain and operate the system; and

(vi) Has an existing established warranty that is valid in the United States for major parts and labor; or

(2) A domestic or foreign system that has been certified by a recognized industry organization whose certification standards are acceptable to the Agency.

Complete application. An application that contains all parts necessary for the Agency to determine applicant and project eligibility, the financial feasibility and technical merit of the project, and contains sufficient information to determine a priority score for the application, if applicable.

Costs incurred. A cost will be considered incurred when payment for costs associated with the project have been issued. If payment was in the form of a check, the date of the check will be considered the date the cost was incurred. If payment was in the form of an electronic payment, the date that the payment was issued from the grantee/producer/borrower account will be considered the date the cost was incurred.

Council. As defined, under the Resource Conservation and Development Program, at 16 U.S.C. 3451.

Departmental regulations. The regulations of the Agency's Office of Chief Financial Officer (or successor office) as codified in 2 CFR chapter IV.

Design/Build method. A method of project development whereby all design, engineering, procurement, construction, and other related project activities are performed under a single contract. The contractor is solely responsible and accountable for successful delivery of the project to the grantee as applicable.

Eligible project costs. Those expenses approved by the Agency for the project as eligible uses of funds.

Energy assessment. An Agency-approved report assessing energy use, cost, and efficiency by analyzing energy bills and surveying the target building and/or equipment sufficiently to provide an Agency-approved energy assessment.

(1) If the project's total project cost is greater than $80,000, the energy assessment must be conducted by either an energy auditor or an energy assessor or an individual supervised by either an energy assessor or energy auditor. The final energy assessment must be validated and signed by the energy assessor or energy auditor who conducted the energy assessment or by the supervising energy assessor or energy auditor of the individual who conducted the assessment, as applicable.

(2) If the project's total project cost is $80,000 or less, the energy assessment may be conducted in accordance with paragraph (1) of this definition or by an individual or entity that has at least 3 years of experience and completed at least five energy assessments or energy audits on similar type projects.

Energy assessor. A qualified consultant who has at least 3 years of experience and completed at least five energy assessments or energy audits on similar type projects and who adheres to generally recognized engineering principles and practices.

Energy audit. A comprehensive report that meets an Agency-approved standard prepared by an energy auditor or an individual supervised by an energy auditor that documents current energy usage; recommended potential improvements (typically called energy conservation measures) and their costs; energy savings from these improvements; dollars saved per year; and simple payback. The methodology of the energy audit must meet professional and industry standards. The final energy audit must be validated and signed off by the energy auditor who conducted the audit or by the supervising energy auditor of the individual who conducted the audit, as applicable.

Energy auditor. A qualified consultant that meets one of the following criteria:

(1) A certified energy auditor certified by the Association of Energy Engineers;

(2) A certified energy manager certified by the Association of Energy Engineers;

(3) A licensed professional engineer in the State in which the audit is conducted with at least 1-year experience and who has completed at least two similar type energy audits; or

(4) An individual with a 4-year engineering or architectural degree with at least 3 years of experience and who has completed at least five similar type energy audits.

Energy efficiency improvement (EEI). Improvements to or replacement of an existing building or systems and/or equipment, owned by the applicant, that reduces energy consumption on an annual basis.

Existing business. A business that has been in operation for at least 1 full year. The following will be treated as existing businesses provided there is not a significant change in operations of the existing business: Mergers by an existing business with a new or existing business, a change in the business name, or a new business and an existing business applying as co-applicants.

Feasibility study. A report including an opinion or finding conducted by an independent qualified consultant(s) evaluating the economic, market, technical, financial, and management feasibility of a proposed project or operation in terms of its expectation for success as outlined in Appendix D of this Subpart.

Federal fiscal year. The 12-month period beginning October 1 of each year and ending on September 30 of the following year; it is designated by the calendar year in which it ends.

Financial Assistance Agreement (Form RD 4280-2, Rural Business-Cooperative Service Financial Assistance Agreement). An agreement between the Agency and the grantee setting forth the provisions under which the grant will be administered.

Financial feasibility. The ability of a project to achieve sufficient income, credit, and cash flow to financially sustain a project over the long term and meet all debt obligations.

Geothermal direct generation. A system that uses thermal energy directly from a geothermal source.

Geothermal electric generation. A system that uses thermal energy from a geothermal source to produce electricity.

Hybrid. A combination of two or more renewable energy technologies that are incorporated into a unified system to support a single project.

Hydroelectric source. A RES producing electricity using various types of moving water including, but not limited to, diverted run-of-river water, in-stream run-of-river water, and in-conduit water.

Hydrogen project. A system that produces hydrogen derived from a renewable biomass or water using wind, solar, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal) geothermal or hydroelectric sources as an energy transport medium in the production of mechanical or electric power or thermal energy.

Immediate family(ies). Individuals who live in the same household or who are closely related by blood, marriage, or adoption, such as a spouse, domestic partner, parent, child, sibling, aunt, uncle, grandparent, grandchild, niece, nephew, or first cousin.

Inspector. A qualified consultant who has at least 3 years of experience and has completed at least five inspections on similar type projects.

Institution of Higher Education. As defined in 20 U.S.C. 1002(a).

Instrumentality. An organization recognized, established, and controlled by a State, Tribal, or local government, for a public purpose or to carry out special purposes.

Interconnection agreement. A contract containing the terms and conditions governing the interconnection and parallel operation of the grantee's electric generation equipment and the utility's electric power system or a grantee's biogas production system and gas pipeline.

Matching funds. Those project funds required by 7 U.S.C. 8107 to be made available by the applicant in order to be eligible to receive the grant, or combined grant and guaranteed loan. Funds provided by the applicant in excess of matching funds are not matching funds. Unless authorized by statute, other Federal grant funds cannot be used to meet a matching funds requirement.

Ocean energy. Energy created by use of various types of moving water in the ocean and other large bodies of water (e.g., Great Lakes) including, but not limited to, tidal, wave, current, and thermal changes.

Passive investor. An equity investor that does not actively participate in management and operation decisions of the applicant or any affiliate of the applicant as evidenced by a contractual agreement.

Person. An individual or entity organized under the laws of a State or a Tribe.

Power purchase agreement. The terms and conditions governing the sale and transportation of power produced by the applicant to another party.

Public Power Entity. Is defined using the definition of “State utility” as defined in section 217(A)(4) of the Federal Power Act (16 U.S.C. 824q(a)(4)). As of this writing, the definition “means a State or any political subdivision of a State, or any agency, authority, or Instrumentality of any one or more of the foregoing, or a corporation that is wholly owned, directly or indirectly, by any one or more of the foregoing, competent to carry on the business of developing, transmitting, utilizing, or distributing power.”

Qualified Consultant(s). An independent third-party person possessing the knowledge, expertise, and experience to perform the specific task required.

Rated Power. The maximum amount of energy that can be created at any given time.

Refurbished. Refers to a piece of equipment or RES that has been brought into a commercial facility, thoroughly inspected, and worn parts replaced and has a warranty that is approved by the Agency or its designee.

Renewable biomass.

(1) Materials, pre-commercial thinnings, or invasive species from National Forest System land or public lands (as defined in section 103 of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (43 U.S.C. 1702)) that:

(i) Are byproducts of preventive treatments that are removed to reduce hazardous fuels; to reduce or contain disease or insect infestation; or to restore ecosystem health;

(ii) Would not otherwise be used for higher-value products; and

(iii) Are harvested in accordance with applicable law and land management plans and the requirements for old-growth maintenance, restoration, and management direction of paragraphs (2), (3), and (4) of subsection (e) of section 102 of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act of 2003 (16 U.S.C. 6512) and large-tree retention of subsection (f) of Section 102; or

(2) Any organic matter that is available on a renewable or recurring basis from non-Federal land or land belonging to an Indian or Indian Tribe that is held in trust by the United States or subject to a restriction against alienation imposed by the United States, including the following items:

(i) Renewable plant material (including feed grains; other agricultural commodities; other plants and trees; and algae); and

(ii) Waste material including crop residue; other vegetative waste material (including wood waste and wood residues); animal waste and byproducts (including fats, oils, greases, and manure); and food waste and yard waste.

Renewable energy. Energy derived from:

(1) A wind, solar, renewable biomass, ocean (including tidal, wave, current, and thermal), geothermal or hydroelectric Source; or

(2) Hydrogen derived from renewable biomass or water using an energy source described in paragraph (1).

Renewable energy development assistance (REDA). Assistance provided by eligible grantees to agricultural producers and rural small businesses including education, applicability, and implementation of renewable energy technologies and resources. The REDA may consist of renewable energy site assessments or renewable energy technical assistance.

Renewable energy site assessment. A report provided to an agricultural producer or rural small business providing information regarding and recommendations for the use of commercially available renewable energy technologies in its operation. The report must be prepared by a qualified consultant and must contain the information specified in Sections A through C of Appendix B.

Renewable Energy System (RES). A system that produces usable energy from a renewable energy source and may include:

(1) Distribution components necessary to move energy produced by such system to initial point of sale; and

(2) other components and ancillary infrastructure of such system, such as a storage system; however, such system may not include a mechanism for dispensing energy at retail.

Renewable energy technical assistance. Assistance provided to agricultural producers and rural small businesses on how to use renewable energy technologies and resources in their operations.

Retrofitting. A modification to an existing building or installed equipment that incorporates a function or feature(s)not included in the original design when built or for the replacement of existing components with components that improve the original design and does not impact original warranty if the warranty is still in existence.

Rural and rural area. Any area of a State not in a city or town that has a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants, and which excludes certain populations pursuant to 7 U.S.C. 1991(a)(13)(H), according to the latest decennial census of the United States and not in the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants. In making this determination, the Agency will use the latest decennial census of the United States. The following exclusions apply:

(1) Any area in the urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town that has a population of more than 50,000 inhabitants that has been determined to be “rural in character” as follows:

(i) The determination that an area is “rural in character” will be made by the Under Secretary of Rural Development. The process to request a determination under this provision is outlined in paragraph (1)(ii) of this definition. The determination that an area is “rural in character” under this definition will apply to areas that are within:

(A) An urbanized area that has two points on its boundary that are at least 40 miles apart, which is not contiguous or adjacent to a city or town that has a population of greater than 150,000 inhabitants or the urbanized area of such a city or town; or

(B) An urbanized area contiguous and adjacent to a city or town of greater than 50,000 inhabitants that is within 1/4 mile of a rural area.

(ii) Units of local government may petition the Under Secretary of Rural Development for a “rural in character” designation by submitting a petition to the appropriate Rural Development State Director for recommendation to the Administrator on behalf of the Under Secretary. The petition shall document how the area meets the requirements of paragraph (1)(i)(A) or (B) of this definition and discuss why the petitioner believes the area is “rural in character,” including, but not limited to, the area's population density, demographics, and topography and how the local economy is tied to a rural economic base. Upon receiving a petition, the Under Secretary will consult with the applicable Governor or leader in a similar position and request comments to be submitted within 5 business days, unless such comments were submitted with the petition. The Under Secretary will release to the public a notice of a petition filed by a unit of local government not later than 30 days after receipt of the petition by way of publication in a local newspaper and posting on the Agency's website at https://www.rd.usda.gov, and the Under Secretary will make a determination not less than 15 days, but no more than 60 days, after the release of the notice. Upon a negative determination, the Under Secretary will provide to the petitioner an opportunity to appeal a determination to the Under Secretary, and the petitioner will have 10 business days to appeal the determination and provide further information for consideration. The Under Secretary will make a determination of the appeal in not less than 15 days, but no more than 30 days.

(iii) Rural Development State Directors may also initiate a request to the Under Secretary to determine if an area is “rural in character.” A written recommendation should be sent to the Administrator, on behalf of the Under Secretary, that documents how the area meets the statutory requirements of paragraph (1)(i)(B) of this definition and discusses why the State Director believes the area is “rural in character,” including, but not limited to, the area's population density, demographics, topography, and how the local economy is tied to a rural economic base. Upon receipt of such a request, the Administrator will review the request for compliance with the “rural in character” provisions and make a recommendation to the Under Secretary. Provided a favorable determination is made, the Under Secretary will consult with the applicable Governor or leader in a similar position and request comments within 10 business days, unless the comments were submitted with the request. A public notice will be published by the State Office in accordance with paragraph (1)(ii) of this definition. There is no appeal process for requests made on the initiative of the State Director.

(2) An area that is attached to the urbanized area of a city or town with more than 50,000 inhabitants by a contiguous area of urbanized census blocks that is not more than two census blocks wide. Applicants from such an area should work with their Rural Development State Office to request a determination of whether their project is located in a rural area under this provision.

(3) For the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the island is considered rural and eligible except for the San Juan Census Designated Place (CDP) and any other CDP with greater than 50,000 inhabitants. Areas within CDPs with greater than 50,000 inhabitants, other than the San Juan CDP, may be determined to be rural if they are “not urban in character.”

(4) For the State of Hawaii, all areas within the State are considered rural and eligible except for the Honolulu CDP within the County of Honolulu and any other CDP with greater than 50,000 inhabitants. Areas within CDPs with greater than 50,000 inhabitants, other than the Honolulu CDP, may be determined to be rural if they are “not urban in character.”

(5) For the purpose of defining a rural area in the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Agency shall determine what constitutes rural and rural area based on available population data.

Rural small business. A small business that is located in a rural area or that can demonstrate the proposed project for which assistance is being applied for under this part is located in a rural area.

Simple payback. The estimated simple payback of a project funded under this part as calculated using paragraphs (1) or (2), as applicable, of this definition.

(1) EEI projects simple payback = (total project costs) ÷ (dollar value of energy saved).

(i) Energy saved will be determined by subtracting the projected energy (determined by the method in paragraph (1)(i)(B) of this definition) to be consumed from the historical energy consumed (determined by the method in paragraph (1)(i)(A) of this definition), and converting the result to a monetary value using a constant value or price of energy (determined by the method in paragraph (1)(i)(C) of this definition).

(A) Actual energy used in the original building and/or equipment, as applicable, prior to the EEI project, must be based on the actual average annual total energy used in British thermal units (BTU) over the most recent 12, 24, 36, 48, or 60 consecutive months of operation. Attach utility bills to document applicant entity's historical energy consumption quantity.

(B) Projected energy use if the proposed EEI project had been in place for the original building and/or equipment, as applicable, for the same time period used to determine that actual energy use under paragraph (1)(i)(A) of this definition.

(C) Value or price of energy must be the actual average price paid over the same time period used to calculate the actual energy used under paragraph (1)(i)(A) of this definition. When calculating the actual average price of energy, only include energy charges directly reduced by the unit of energy being replaced or saved. Attach utility bills to document applicant entity's average price of energy.

(ii) The EEI projects simple payback calculation does not allow applicants to monetize EEI benefits other than the dollar amount of the energy savings the agricultural producer or rural small business realizes as a result of the improvement.

(2) RES projects simple payback = (total project costs) ÷ (dollar value of energy units replaced, credited, sold, or used and fair market value of byproducts as applicable in a typical year).

(i) Value of energy replaced will be calculated based on the applicant entity's historical energy consumption with actual average price paid for the energy replaced, following the methodology outlined in paragraph (1)(i) of this definition. Attach utility bills to document applicant entity's historical energy consumption quantity and actual average price of energy.

(ii) Value of energy credited or sold will be calculated based on the amount of energy units to be credited or sold at the proposed rate per unit, as documented in utility net metering or crediting policies and/or a power purchase agreement. Attach utility net metering or crediting policies and/or a power purchase agreement to document energy quantity and proposed rate for energy credited or sold.

(iii) If proposed energy will be used in a new facility, value of energy used will be calculated based on the amount of energy units to be used at the documented price per unit of conventional fuel alternative. Attach documentation of market price per unit of conventional fuel alternative.

(iv) Value of byproducts produced by and used in the project or related enterprises should be documented at the fair market value to be received for the byproducts in a typical year. Attach documentation of market value price to be received for byproducts and documentation to support byproduct sales or direct use.

(v) The RES projects simple payback calculation does not include any one-time benefits such as but not limited to construction and investment-related benefits, nor credits which do not provide annual income to the project, such as tax credits.

Small business means,

(1) An entity or utility, as applicable, as further defined in subparagraphs (i) through (iv) and paragraph (2) of this definition. With the exception of the entities identified in this paragraph, all other non-profit entities are not small businesses for the purposes of REAP program eligibility:

(i) A private for-profit entity, including a sole proprietorship, partnership, or corporation;

(ii) A cooperative (including a cooperative qualified under section 501(c)(12) of the Internal Revenue Code);

(iii) An electric utility (including a Tribal or governmental electric utility) that provides service to rural consumers and operates independent of direct government control; or

(iv) A Tribal corporation or other Tribal business entities that are chartered under Section 17 of the Indian Reorganization Act (25 U.S.C. 477) or have similar structures and relationships with their Tribal governments and are acceptable to the Agency. The Agency will determine the small business status of such Tribal entity without regard to the resources of the Tribal government; and

(2) An entity that meets Small Business Administration size standards in accordance with 13 CFR part 121 and criteria of § 121.301 as applicable to financial assistance programs, including (i) or (ii) below. The size of the concern alone and the size of the concern combined with other entity(ies) it controls or entity(ies) it is controlled by, must not exceed the size standard thresholds designated for the industry in which the concern alone or the concern and its controlling entity(ies), whichever is higher, is primarily engaged.

(i) The concern's tangible net worth is not in excess of $15 million and average net income (excluding carry-over losses) for the preceding two completed fiscal years is not in excess of $5.0 million; or

(ii) The size of the concern does not exceed the Small Business Administration (SBA) size standard thresholds designated for the industry in which it is primarily engaged, as measured by number of employees or annual receipts. Industry size standard designations to be utilized are listed in the Small Business Administration's (SBA) table of size standards found in 13 CFR part 121.201. Number of employees and annuals receipts are calculated as follows:

(A) Number of employees is calculated as the average number of all individuals employed by a concern on a full-time, part-time, or other basis, based upon numbers of employees for each of the pay periods for the preceding completed 12 calendar months. If a concern has not been in business for 12 months, the average number of employees is used for each of the pay periods during which it has been in business.

(B) Annual receipts are calculated as average total income plus cost of goods sold for the for the five most recent years. If a concern has been in operation for less than 60 months, average annual receipts for as long as the concern has been in operation are used.

Smart Utility. The use of broadband facilities and equipment that is only available internally by a recipient during the economic life of the assets financed by an Agency loan, grant, or loan guarantee.

State. Any of the 50 States of the United States, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands.

Steady state operating level means that there is an adequate and consistent supply of the applicable renewable energy resource(s) for the project, both on a short-term (current) and long-term basis, and the renewable energy system and process(es) are operating at projected capacity, consistently yielding an adequate quantity and quality of renewable energy.

Total eligible project costs. The sum of all eligible project costs.

Total project costs. The sum of all costs associated with a completed project.

Underserved community(ies). Communities (including urban or rural communities and Indian tribal communities) that have limited access to affordable, healthy foods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, in grocery retail stores or farmer-to-consumer direct markets and that have either a high rate of hunger or food insecurity or a high poverty rate as reflected in the most recent decennial census or other Agency-approved census.

Used equipment. Any equipment that has been used and is provided in an “as is” condition.

Useful life means estimated durations of utility placed on a variety of assets, including buildings, machinery, equipment, vehicles, electronics, and furniture. Useful life estimations terminate at the point when assets are expected to become obsolete, require major repairs, or cease to deliver economical results.

Veteran. A veteran is a person who served in the active military, naval, or air service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable as defined in title 38 U.S.C. 101(2).

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