Recently Solar United Neighbors (SUN) launched a new program in West Virginia called “Ready, Set, Solar, REAP!” This initiative is designed to help farmers and rural business owners harness the benefits of solar energy, with the support of grants from the USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).
Farmers and rural businesses can often find the process of accessing solar grants daunting. SUN’s 10-week program provides a comprehensive guide to the REAP application process. Participants will receive weekly emails to navigate the ins and outs of securing their grants seamlessly.
“If you own a farm or rural small business and have thought about going solar, now’s your chance,” said Leah Barbor, SUN West Virginia Program Director. “Going solar lets you lower and control your energy costs. We’re excited to offer this first-of-its-kind guide to bring more solar power to rural communities.”
“Going solar is one of the best decisions I have made since I started farming,” said Tommye Lou Rafes of T.L. Fruits and Vegetables LLC. “We have enough solar panels to produce the electricity we use so our energy costs are fixed. When energy prices go up we don’t notice. Farmers looking to control costs and increase sustainability should take advantage of REAP and other programs to go solar.”
Moreover, the “Ready, Set, Solar, REAP!” program offers participants unbiased, installer-neutral advice and active support from an experienced network of SUN staff and past REAP grantees.
REAP started in 2002 as part of the federal Farm Bill. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Rural Development administers this grant and loan program. The program helps farmers and rural small business owners access renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies
The REAP program has been so popular that funding for the grants has not been able to meet the demand. The Inflation Reduction Act, passed one year ago, addresses this challenge. It dedicated an additional $2 billion to REAP over the next ten years, quadrupling the program’s funding.
Farmers and rural small businesses can receive grants for up to 50% of total eligible project costs. They can also receive loan guarantees of up to 75% of total eligible project costs through REAP. USDA accepts REAP applications year round. There are four application windows per year. The current window closes on September 30, and the following one will close on December 31.
Solar United Neighbors has helped well over a dozen applicants apply for a REAP grant or loan.
SUN’s guide to applying for REAP is available online at solarunitedneighbors.org/reap.
About Solar United Neighbors:
Solar United Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that works in West Virginia and nationwide to represent the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. Solar co-ops are part of the organization’s mission to create a new energy system with rooftop solar at the cornerstone. Solar United Neighbors holds events and education programs to help people become informed solar consumers, maximize the value of their solar investment, and advocate for fair solar policies.