One of the best-kept secrets in funding solar projects is the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP)—a USDA program that covers up to 25% of a renewable energy project’s cost for certain agriculture and rural small businesses.
A millwork business in rural Delaware featured in an article from the USA TODAY network was awarded a REAP grant to offset more than $100,000 in system costs—helping to speed the ROI of their solar investment. For many small businesses and ag operations seeking the benefits of solar, finding out how to afford renewable energy while avoiding bank loans is key to their desire to stay debt-free.
From the article:
The USDA Rural Energy for American Program covered 25 percent of the cost for a total grant of $105,462, said Kathy Beisner, acting USDA Rural Development state director for Delaware and Maryland.
A year after installing the PV (photovoltaic) system, Atlantic Millwork and Cabinetry owner Mark Woodruff reported a 90% savings in energy costs. He said he expects the system to pay for itself in six years from the time of installation.
“From six years on, I’ll get almost free electricity, not to mention it helps the environment,” Woodruff said in a video interview.
In addition to helping pay for renewable energy in agriculture, REAP provides guaranteed loan financing for energy efficiency projects and also offers green retrofit grants.
For renewable energy grants, there’s a $2,500 minimum and a $500,000 maximum—and grants may be combined with energy efficiency loan guarantees for up to 75% of the total project cost.
REAP applications are available year-round, and grant decisions are made twice yearly at the end of March and October. For more information, ask your local solar provider or visit the USDA REAP website.