What the USDA REAP Grant Really Does (It’s Not Just for Farmers!)
Includes 2 REAP Case Studies – See How Much They Saved
If you live in small town America, if you’re tired of spending so much on ever-increasing energy costs, and if you haven’t heard of the USDA REAP grant and loan opportunities, you have come to the right place.
The US Department of Agriculture in 2018 alone allocated over $600 million for guaranteed loans and unrestricted grants to help rural farms AND businesses install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements. And this just one of many incentives to go solar.
Most people assume these grants and loans are available to farmers. They are. But they’re also available to rural businesses, which the USDA defines as an area with fewer than 50,000 people.
As you’re about to see, Coastal Solar has helped some of these businesses go solar and get huge REAP grants to offset the costs of their new solar energy systems.
If you think you won’t qualify, don’t count yourself out. You might be surprised. And the money you will save once your solar power starts offsetting your power bill makes it more than worth spending a little time to see if you qualify.
Think about it: If you can get a grant for thousands of dollars, and then you add that to the 26% federal investment tax credit and other incentives, you can get a solar system for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars off, depending on the size. We’ve seen farms and businesses save more than 50% once all their credits and grants were added up, and they have fully recovered the costs of their solar investment in just a few years.
Now, they’re enjoying 60-90% power bill reductions every year. Nearly free energy.
Want to be next?
What Are USDA REAP Grants and Loans?
The USDA REAP grant and loan was created in 2002 as part of the 2002 Farm Bill, and it was re-upped in 2014. REAP stands for Rural Energy for America Program.
The USDA offers loan guarantees and unrestricted grants to farm and rural business projects that relate to energy conservation. It’s specifically designed to help rural Americans save money on energy.
The USDA REAP grant funds two things: renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. Some examples:
Renewable energy systems funded by REAP grants and loans:
• Solar power
• Wind power
• Ocean energy generation
• Biomass, like anaerobic digesters, biodiesel, solid fuels
• Hydropower under 30 megawatts
Energy efficiency improvements funded by REAP grants and loans:
• Higher efficiency HVAC
• Cooling and refrigeration units
• Doors and windows
• Electric, solar, or gravity pumps for sprinkler pivots
• Switch from diesel to electric irrigation motor
• Replace inefficient energy equipment
What Have USDA REAP Grants and Loans Funded so Far?
REAP grants and loans have funded projects in every state, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and the Western Pacific.
The most recent figures we could find say that the USDA has given $345 million in grants and $430 million in loan guarantees to farmers and small rural businesses.
This involved a total of 10,446 projects, and it saves 8.4 million megawatt-hours every year. This is enough to power 760,000 homes, and will slash carbon dioxide emissions by 5 million metric tons. This is like removing over 1 million cars from the road for a year.
But that’s not all.
The USDA also funds energy audit programs, often through universities. These empower auditors to go out to businesses and farms to help them find ways to improve energy efficiency and save money.
One such audit grant in 2011 went to the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville, North Carolina. They received $99,825 and used it to complete 53 energy audits that found $776,000 in savings that farms and small business could recover on their annual energy costs.
But rather than try to understand it all on your own time, we can help you more quickly find out if you might qualify for a grant or loan.
Coastal Solar and USDA REAP Grants – 2 Case Studies
Coastal Solar’s rural customers have received – this is free money in the bank – $196,413 in USDA REAP grants as of Sept 2018.
And remember, this money is in addition to the 26% savings they get from the solar Investment Tax Credit (which begins to expire at the end of 2019), and other incentives.
Here are two recent REAP case studies from Coastal Solar customers:
Armstrong Family Dentistry – Jesup GA
Dr. Hugh Armstrong won a REAP grant of $8750 to help install his new 14 KW solar energy system. Combined with the federal tax credit and other incentives as well as his sizable power bill savings, Dr. Armstrong is projected to fully recover his costs in less than two years.
That is astonishingly fast.
His Internal Rate of Return (IRR) is nearly 40%.
In other words, this dentist (not livestock dentist, not freelancing dentist who works as a farmer in the daytime) would have spent $35,000 on his solar energy system. With all these incentives and credits and grants, he spent less than half of that and fully recovers his investment in the second year.
In 25 years, he will have saved over $170,000 on utility bills.
Is that a good deal?
Jesup Pediatrics – Jesup, GA
The team at Jesup Pediatrics wanted to go solar, but they were a bit worried about a couple things: How the panels would look, and if the installation would disrupt their business.
Interestingly, they weren’t concerned about the cost. How could that be?
Because even though their 16.4KW solar power system would have cost nearly $60,000, with the federal tax credit and the $14,965 REAP grant they won, they paid less than half of that. With other credits that materialize over time and the money they save on power, they’ll have paid off the initial investment in under four years, and are projected to save over $167,000 over the next 25 years.
Here’s what office manager Rachelda Crummey said after the new solar panels were installed:
“The whole process was smooth. There were no hiccups whatsoever. The install took a couple of days and didn’t disrupt our business at all. We are really pleased with it… We are pulling very little power from Georgia Power now… I was worried about what the solar arrays would look like on our building. The panels look wonderful! It’s very clean and professional. We are very impressed, and excited to see how much we save again next month.”
Will You Win the Next USDA REAP Grant?
We have to keep emphasizing it: REAP grants are available to businesses, not just farms. That might mean you! It costs you nothing to find out, and it might save you tens of thousands depending on how much of your power bill you want to wipe out through solar energy.
There’s already so much in favor of farms, especially poultry farms, going solar. But other farms and rural businesses like the two examples above can also save thousands on their power bills over the life of their solar energy systems.
And the savings are realized even faster if you become the next Coastal Solar customer to win a USDA REAP grant.