It’s time to REAP what you sow. The Rural Energy for America Program has set its deadlines for 2014. If you are an agricultural producer or a small business operating in rural America, you may qualify for a solar energy grant.
The Rural Energy for America Program began with the 2008 Farm Bill. Over the years, millions of dollars has gone to supporting clean energy development in rural America.
There are two parts to this program: The Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program and The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant Program. Quite mouthful, but here is the breakdown: The Renewable Energy System and Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loan and Grant Program provides financial assistance to agricultural producers and small businesses to implement renewable energy or energy efficiency projects.
Under this program, you can gain assistance for solar power installations in two sizes:
• Small solar projects: electric projects less than 10 kW, or thermal projects with storage of less than 240 gallons
• Large solar projects: electric projects more than 10 kW, or thermal projects with storage or more than 240 gallons
Eligible project costs run the gamut from the purchase and installation of equipment, to energy audits and technical reports, to permits and licensing fees. Land acquisition and working capital is eligible for guaranteed loans, but not for grants.
The amount available for your rural solar energy project can be substantive. For example, up to 85% is available for guaranteed loans of $600,000 or less. For grants,the minimum amount is $2,500, and runs to a maximum of 25% of project costs or $500,000.
The deadlines for the 2014 fiscal year are coming up fast. To be considered,you must have your solar energy project applications in to your USDA Rural Development State Office by 4:30 pm local time on the following dates:
July 7th – For grant applications and combination grant and guaranteed loan applications.
July 31st – Guaranteed loan only applications.
The Energy Audit and Renewable Energy Development Assistance Grant Program provides grants to those who can assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses in implementing their projects through information and energy audits. The maximum amount for this grant is $100,000.
To give your application some extra oomph, consider contacting your local senate office to request a letter of support.
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