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New Guide Helps Farms, Rural Small Businesses Go Solar
New York Ag Connection - 01/27/2023

As part of its mission to help people go solar, national nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN) released a new guide to help farmers and rural small business owners apply for a key federal grant and loan. This will make it easier for them to install solar energy at their property. The comprehensive guide takes applicants step-by-step through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) application process.

"If you own a farm or rural small business and have thought about going solar, now's your chance," said Anya Schoolman, Solar United Neighbors Executive 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."

View the guide in full at

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 is designed to help farmers and rural small businesses 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 last year, addresses this challenge. It quadruples REAP funding over the next ten years.

"Going solar eight years ago is one of the best decisions I have made since I started farming," said Art Thicke of Enchanted Meadows dairy farm in LaCrescent, Minnesota. "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."

Farmers and rural small business owners can receive loan guarantees of up to 75% of total eligible project costs through REAP. They can receive grants for up to 40% of the total project cost.

Solar United Neighbors has helped more than a dozen applicants apply for a REAP grant or loan.

The USDA accepts applications twice a year. The first deadline is March 31. The second is October 31. SUN is hosting a free webinar February 2 to educate attendees about the REAP program and what steps they need to take to apply.

Solar United Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that works in Minnesota 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.

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