Your Rural Small Business Can Go Solar and Save Money

Small business owners work hard to serve their customers and communities. Expensive and unpredictable electric bills shouldn’t get in the way of that.

This is why many small businesses are looking into solar to lower their energy costs. Now is a great time to consider going solar; the cost has dropped 37.5% since 2010. Plus, new tax credits and federal programs can lower solar’s cost even further.

One federal program in particular, the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), is perfect for helping farmers and rural small businesses go solar. REAP offers grants and loans to make solar more affordable. These grants are for up to 50% of the system cost, and loans are available through a competitive application process.

On top of that, tax incentives within the Inflation Reduction Act can help save even more money. Small businesses that install solar may be eligible for a 30% Income Tax Credit, a 10% domestic content credit and a 10% coal-impacted community credit. There are quarterly application deadlines, and smaller projects that aren’t chosen can be considered in the next round of funding.

There are resources that can help make the application process easier, too. For example, Solar United Neighbors (SUN) is a national nonprofit that provides customer-focused and installer-neutral support to help you benefit from solar opportunities.

Caption: “The solar barn at T.L. Fruits and Vegetables.”

For Pendleton County rural small business T.L. Fruits and Vegetables, “the REAP program was a deciding factor” in going solar. The 70-panel solar array on their barn supports their grow lights for starting seedlings and high tunnel operations. They were able to pay off their initial investment in 5 years.

Caption: “The ground mount solar array at T.L. Fruits and Vegetables.”

“This could be an answer to more rural businesses trying to stay in business,” said Debby Kay of Chilbrook Kennels in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. Kay used REAP funding to add solar and battery storage to her business.

Like these business owners, anyone interested in going solar through REAP can receive information and assistance from SUN. The nonprofit represents the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters in West Virginia and across the country. SUN has been helping people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights since 2007.

SUN offers a program called “Ready, Set, Solar, REAP!” This free program makes the application process easier by offering step-by-step guidance over 10 weeks on how to complete and submit a USDA REAP grant.

By joining Ready, Set, Solar, REAP you will receive:

  • A week of emails introducing you to the REAP grant process and our new REAP
    guide, followed by an email a week with bite-size to-do’s for the remaining 8
  • Unbiased, installer-neutral advice and expertise
  • Active support from a network of peers, including SUN staff and previous REAP
    grantees in West Virginia

Beyond this, SUN staff are available to answer your specific questions directly. Just reach out to [email protected].

Thanks to the many resources and opportunities available, going solar is easier and more cost-effective than ever. Any farmer or rural business owner should consider whether solar is right for them. With solar, you can take control of your own power and save money while utility rates continue to rise.

Cory Chase
WV SUN Program Associate
Solar United Neighbors
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Born and raised in Tucker County, West Virginia. Professional massage therapist for 17 years. Pivoted out of that career during COVID and have worked in the nonprofit sector since. Focus on sustainability, renewable energy, decarbonizing the grid, community building, and state energy policy.

For fun: I love playing the drums, hang pan, miniKorg, cajon, etc. Permaculture and gardening in most of my free time.