Solar Grants for Farmers

Solar Grants for Farmers

solar grants for farmersMany farmers in Kansas and Missouri love the idea of switching to solar power and other types of renewable energy.  Residents of major cities in Kansas and Missouri have already missed their best opportunity to get rebates from their utility companies.  Farmers, however, have an awesome chance to take hold of a government program called the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).  This program provides solar grants for farmers and small businesses in rural areas for up to 25% of the cost of their systems.  Combined with the 30% federal tax credit, farmers can enjoy a solar installation for less than half the cost of a normal installation.  This article explains the steps to receive solar grants for farmers.

Receive a free solar design and cost estimate.

Before getting into the details of applying for a grant, you’ll need to know if a solar installation is a good solution for your farmstead.  A-Line Energy Solutions can perform a free solar design for you using our advanced 3D solar estimating software.  We’ll help you consider factors such as your monthly energy usage, your utility rates, the structure of your buildings, trees and shading objects, etc.  We’ll also run various financial scenarios to see if cash or a loan would work best in your situation.  To sign up now for a free quote, click here.

Compare the energy usage of your home and business.

A-Line’s Solar installation at an ag supply store in Butler, MO.

It’s important to note that the USDA has special requirements for how you use the energy produced from your solar panel system.  If your farm and residence has a shared electrical meter, to qualify for the largest grant amounts, your farm must use at least 51% of the energy that is produced by the panels.  If your house uses the majority of the energy, you can still apply for the grant.  However, your solar installer is required to install a special meter or device to sell the surplus power to the grid.  This can still provide a helpful income stream.  Additionally, your solar consultant can help you design a system that will be just the right size to power your farm and help you achieve maximum cost benefit.  If you’re curious, you can estimate your power usage with this energy calculator.

Sign a contract to get the project started.

Once you’ve worked with your solar designer to create a solar project that fits your needs and makes sense economically, it’s time to enter an agreement with your solar company.  Then they will help you obtain the funding.  A-Line Energy Solutions only asks for a $1,000 deposit to hold your spot in our installation schedule.  If we help you apply for the grant, and the amount of funding given is significantly less than expected, we can refund your deposit.

Apply for a grant with your local USDA office.

Now it is time to apply for the grant with your local USDA office.  Your solar consultant will help you with the technical details of filling out the forms.  You’ll need to make sure that at least 50% of your income was from farming in the last 3 years.  As with most government programs, you’ll need to have a lot of paper work ready.  This includes your tax returns, annual receipts, etc.   The USDA will use a scoring system to determine your grant amount.  This scoring system includes factors like environmental benefit, financial need, the financial growth of your city, and the financial benefit of the system.  If you’re never used the USDA grant or loan program before, you’re more likely to receive funding.  If your project costs $40,000 total, you can receive up to $10,000 from these solar grants for farmers.

Apply for additional financing with your trusted lender.

If you need help with the rest of project costs, the USDA will guarantee the loan.  This means they will guarantee to pay the remaining balance of the loan in case of default (which is very rare with solar electric systems).  You can apply for additional funding with the trusted bank or credit union of your choice.  You can also visit the USDA funding portal.  The USDA will guarantee the loan up to 75% of the project costs (at a guarantee rate of 85%).  Thus, if your overall project costs $40,000, you could receive up to $30,000 in loans.  The government will guarantee $25,500.  The loan term for renewable energy equipment is 15 years under this program.

Purchase materials and install.

Ground mounted solar panels at a farm in Central, MO installed by A-Line Energy Solutions.

To begin the project, your solar installer will need a payment of roughly half the system cost to purchase materials.  If you’ve received funding approval from a lender, this will be taken care of.  If you’re paying with cash, you would invest it at this point and wait for reimbursement.  Your experienced and trustworthy installer will then install racking, panels, wiring, inverters, meters, monitoring equipment, and optional battery storage.  Both roof mounted and ground mounted designs are available.

Receive grant funds and tax credits when system is complete.

When the system is operational and inspected, you’ll be able to receive your grant check.  You can use this check to pay down your loan balance.  Or, you can use it as reimbursement.  Then, after you file your taxes the next year, you will receive your 30% federal tax credit.  Many lenders like Admirals Bank will allow you to restructure your loan payments at this point to get a smaller payment.

Enjoy cleaner, cheaper power for years to come.

Finally, you will enjoy cleaner power to help our environment.  You’ll see a major offset on your electric bill and receive bill credit for any extra power you produce.  You’ll also add value to your property.  Talk to a solar consultant today to learn if these solar grants for farmers will work for you.  Call us at 816-282-0220 x1 or fill out a quote request form here.