Eastern Kentucky businesses recently received more than $105,000 in grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in order to install solar panels.
In 2020, the Mountain Association worked with nine businesses in Eastern Kentucky to apply for the grant funding. The USDA administers REAP to provide financial assistance to rural small businesses and agricultural producers to purchase, install, and construct renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements to non-residential buildings and facilities, and participate in energy audits.
The businesses that were awarded funding with the Mountain Association’s assistance include Long’s 1 & Up/Pro Hardware in Bell County, Silver Run Ceramics in Boyd County, Longview Estate in Garrard County, Breeding’s Plumbing & Electric in Letcher County, Mountain Truck Parts in Letcher County, London Tower Properties in Laurel County, and Bluegrass Biochar/Red River Gorgeous in Powell County. Two farms received funding, including Lazy Eight Stock Farm in Garrard County and SouthDown Farm in Letcher County.
The awards total $106,683 and cover approximately 25 percent of the cost of a given energy project for each business or farm. Adding in the current 26 percent federal tax credit for renewable systems, many business owners will be able to cover more than half of the costs for their energy savings projects.
“The solar installations are bringing vital energy savings to business owners. With most systems paying for themselves within 7 to 12 years, businesses are reducing their operating expenses and leveling out their seasonal electric bills,” Josh Bills, Commercial Energy Specialist at the Mountain Association, said. “Plus, planning, building and maintaining these systems requires high-skilled, good-paying jobs — jobs that many hardworking Kentuckians desperately need.”
Since 2015, the Mountain Association’s energy team, in partnership with Midwest Clean Energy Enterprise, LLC and Berea College, have worked with 19 businesses to receive nearly $510,000 in REAP funding for both energy efficiency and solar projects, as well as more than $47,000 in on-farm energy funding from the Governor’s Office of Agricultural Policy (GOAP).
For 2020 deadlines, the team submitted applications to REAP and GOAP for 10 additional businesses again totaling more than $100,000, and looks forward to the agency’s decisions. Interested businesses should get in touch well before the next REAP grant application deadline of March 31, 2021.
In addition to grant application support, the non-profit organization continues to provide technical assistance to facilitate the projects, including solar installation design support, review of contractor proposals, and more.
We encourage any Eastern Kentucky-based business looking to make energy efficiency and renewable energy upgrades to contact Carrie Ray, Energy Program Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (859) 544-0023.