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Exploring REAP Grants for Rural Small Businesses

Exploring REAP Grants for Rural Small Businesses

Perhaps you find yourself wondering whether there are funding opportunities available to help your business “Go Solar.” Aside from the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and the sales tax exemption in Washington State, there is one other program that you may or may not be aware of. The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is a loan and grant program offered by the US Department of Agriculture to increase access to renewable energy generation for agricultural producers and other rural small businesses.

What is a REAP Grant?

These funds can be utilized to help offset deployment costs associated with solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, and other renewable energy generation systems. Successful applicants can receive grants up to 25% of project cost for energy generation required for business operation. There is a $500,000 maximum grant amount per eligible project in Washington State until 2023.

Can I acquire REAP funding for my business’s solar project?

Quite possibly! There are several important qualifications for successful REAP applications. Even if the system does qualify, there is no guarantee that the application will be selected for funding. We’re happy to provide the project-specific details relating to the solar system design, generating capacity, and other related information, but ultimately the business owner is responsible for ensuring a successful grant application.

View the USDA REAP Fact Sheet (pdf)

How can I identify whether my business will qualify?

  • Since this program is designed specifically for rural businesses, a good first step is to check whether your address is in a Rural Development Area. This can be done quite easily through the Property Eligibility tool on the USDA’s website. If your address is eligible, you might be a valid applicant.
  • Over 50% of energy from the solar system must be utilized for business needs. If there is a residence under the same utility service, the majority business usage must be clearly documented. This may require an energy audit to ensure compliance.
  • Grants can be pursued for projects ranging from $10,000 to $2 Million.
  • At least 12 months of utility bills are required, therefore excluding businesses less than 1 year old.

Do I need to be approved prior to construction begins?

No, construction can begin as soon as the application is submitted. It does not necessarily need to be approved and awarded prior to commencement. Any funding applied prior to submitted application will be deemed ineligible for REAP. Awards can be delayed by 2-3 months after application deadline which means that your system could be operational before grant awards are announced.

When is the application deadline?

There are two application deadlines. For projects under $80,000, the application deadline is Oct 31st. Projects of any size (up to $2 million) must be submitted prior to March 30th for consideration. Interested parties are advised to submit completed applications as soon as possible, since there is a fair amount of paperwork which will need to be processed prior to acceptance.

Who can I contact for assistance in my application?

Luckily there are several entities locally available to help with REAP grant applications. SPARK Northwest and the Snohomish Conservation District can both assist with the process, and we’d be happy to provide specific contact details upon request.

If you think that you may qualify for REAP and you’d like to learn more, don’t hesitate to send us a message so we can help you get the ball rolling.

Western Solar Inc is a leading installer of residential and commercial solar electric systems in Washington State. They strive to design and install the most cost-effective energy-saving solutions for clients.