If you have a small business in a rural area, you’ve got an opportunity to use solar energy to cover utility costs. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) offers solar panel grants and loans – and not just to farmers.
The USDA runs a program called REAP, which stands for Rural Energy for American Program. It’s a federal governmental incentive for small rural businesses – and, yes, farmers. If you’re a farmer, it can be a large or small operation, but businesses must be small and rurally located. The REAP program provides solar panel funding grants that can cover up to 25 percent of a new installation. Then the loan guarantees can help to cover up to 75 percent of the entire cost.
Unfortunately, not every employer is sold on the virtues of working from home. For many of us, the only realistic solution would be to just fly. Impossible? Think again.
How Do You Qualify?
Your small business must fall into a specific category to be eligible.
- Your small business must be located in a rural area. The USDA actually maintains an office in Beltsville, Maryland called the Rural Information Center. You can find more information about how the USDA defines a rural area by visiting the organization’s Rural Information Center website. Generally, a rural area has a population of less than 50,000 people.
- If you’re in a rural area, you can have a small business of any kind. The USDA’s REAP program has no specific qualifications for type. The REAP website has an interactive tool that allows you to see if your business has an address eligible for the program.
- You must own the business to be eligible for the solar panel grant. The program doesn’t require you to own the building – but one of our pre-fabricated metal building kits makes ownership more affordable than you might think.
- Buildings used as residences aren’t eligible for this program. It must be exclusively used as a small rural business. This is because you’ll have to demonstrate that the energy savings of the solar panel system exclusively benefits your business.
- Be prepared, also, to demonstrate that your small rural business will generate enough operational revenue to cover maintenance.
If your small rural business produces at least 50 percent of its gross annual income directly from agricultural production, the USDA identifies you as a farm. Then you don’t have to worry about where the building is located.