KEARNEY — Nebraska counties where free energy audits are not provided by local utilities, including Custer, are targeted for audit assistance grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

Ag producers and other rural small businesses owners may qualify for grants paying 75 percent of the cost for an audit. The service is offered by the Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which received the Rural Development grant.

A third-party energy audit is required to apply for guaranteed loans and grants from the Rural Energy for America Program, also administered by Rural Development, to help pay for energy efficiency projects.

May 2 is the deadline to apply for the next round of REAP grants.

For information about energy audit and/or REAP grants, contact Matthew Jorgenson at the Buffalo County Extension office in Kearney, 308-293-5884 or, or visit the Nebraska MEP website at