REAP Grants to Install Solar Panels on Your Rural Business
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers the Rural Energy for America Program Grant (REAP grant for solar), which provides solar energy grants and guaranteed loan funding for small rural businesses and agricultural producers. This grant and loan money is specifically for installing renewable energy systems or making improvements to the overall energy efficiency of agricultural producers and rural businesses.
REAP Grant Eligibility
In order to be eligible for the REAP grant, applicants must own the business, be financially solvent with no delinquencies or outstanding federal taxes, and have no judgment or debarments against them.
Agricultural producers must earn at least half of their gross annual income from the farming operation. They can be in either rural or non-rural locations, while rural small businesses must be located in rural areas – defined as an area that’s not a city or town with 50,000 or more inhabitants or the surrounding area. In order to check if your farm or business qualifies, you can enter your business address online on the USDA eligibility map.
Type of Eligible Energy Technologies
The REAP grant and loan money can be used for the implementation of renewable energy systems such as biomass, geothermal, hydropower, hydrogen, wind power, solar power, and ocean power. Or, it can be used for energy efficiency improvements like upgrading HVAC systems, improving lighting or insulation, installing or improving cooling or refrigeration units, installing sprinkler pivots that use renewable energy, transitioning from diesel irrigation motors to electric motors, or replacing other qualifying equipment that is deemed inefficient.
The loan program stipulates a $5,000 minimum and $25 million maximum loan amount that’s guaranteed for up to 85% of the total amount. There is a 30-year maximum term for real estate and combined real estate and equipment loans, a 15-year maximum term for equipment and machinery loans, and a 7-year maximum term for capital loans.
Grant Funding (Free Money)
The USDA REAP Grant program allows for $1,500 minimum and $250,000 maximum per grant. If the project is going to cost more than $200,000, a technical report must be compiled before the project is begun, and all energy efficiency improvement project applications must include an energy audit or assessment before work begins.
Applicants must cover at least 75% of the project cost if they are applying for a grant or at least 25% of the cost if they are applying for a loan or a combination of a loan and a grant. Projects are divided into three tiers based on the total anticipated cost so that you will only compete against applicants in your own tier for funding.
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