It's Worth it to Secure an Energy Grant
by Michael Kovalycsik, National Sales & Marketing Director, Delta T Solutions
If one of your 2011 New Year’s resolutions is to work on finding energy grants to help pay for your greenhouse operation’s heating system upgrade, now is a good time to get started. Typically a grant application can take 60 to 90 days and growers can expect to wait another 60 to 75 days for a funding agency to score, review and reward grant money.
Several greenhouse operations within the horticultural industry have already won grants to pay for both energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. Before delving into renewable energy projects, however, it’s smarter to apply for energy efficiency grants first. Growers can also apply for grants for a large project, including energy efficiency upgrades and installation of a renewable energy system, and complete the project in phases.
ALL ABOUT REAP
While the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which is one of the main funding areas for agricultural businesses, has a summer grant deadline (late June), it begins accepting applications in the spring (late April) and has been known to begin funding competitive grants immediately.
REAP provides grants for energy audits and renewable energy development assistance, and awards funds to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase and install renewable energy systems and make energy efficiency improvements.
Grants are awarded on a competitive basis and can be up to 25 percent of total eligible project costs, while REAP loan guarantees can help finance an additional 50 percent of eligible project costs.
Funded projects are limited to $500,000 for renewable energy systems and $250,000 for energy efficiency improvements: however, requests as low as $2,500 for renewable energy systems and $1,500 for energy efficiency improvements are considered, as well. All agricultural producers who gain 50 percent or more of their gross income from the agricultural operations are eligible for funding. Small, rural businesses and rural electric cooperatives are also eligible to apply.
Eligible projects for energy efficiency grants include those that reduce energy use and result in savings for the agricultural producer or small business, such as retrofitting lighting or insulation, or purchasing or replacing equipment with more efficient units. Renewable energy projects include those producing energy from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power and hydrogen-based sources. These can produce any form of energy — heat, electricity or fuel.
To apply for funding for the REAP Grant Program, contact your state’s Rural Development Office or visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/Energy.html.
INFO ABOUT EQIP
Some of the EQIP national priorities include reduction of nonsource pollution, such as nutrients, sediment or excess salinity in impaired watersheds; the reduction of surface water and groundwater contamination; and conservation of ground and surface water resources.
Delta T Solutions’ line of water management systems, including water treatment and containment systems, operate efficiently and effectively to recycle water and clean it for a disease-free, optimum quality water supply to your crops. Grants such as those available through EQIP can help growers manage the water supply responsibly using these tools.
For more information on EQIP grants, visit http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/eqip/.
APPLYING FOR GRANTS
Growers can go about the grant application in one of two ways: either designate someone at your operation to head up the application process, which includes a significant amount of research paperwork and time; or you can hire a company to do it for you.
Viabilility LLC, based in Holland, Mich., has obtained energy grants for Walters Gardens, Green Circle Growers and Pleasant View Gardens, among others, and is well-versed in dealing with government grant agencies. The company deals with equipment vendors and government agencies directly, to spare the grower client from most of the work. Viability offers growers a free assessment of what grant opportunities they qualify for; however, they do take a cut of the final grant awarded as payment and cannot guarantee you will receive the grant. To contact Viability, call 616-396-6101 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
You may be able to find additional funding opportunities through local energy companies, your state’s departments of agriculture and natural resources, energy or commerce. Additional grant opportunities available nationally and regionally can also be found at http://www.grants.gov.
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