Tag Archives: Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants

Ohio No. 2 on federal list of new distributed wind power capacity

By Megan Henry, The Columbus Dispatch

Unlike wind power from wholesale generation where power is sent through transmission lines and substations, distributed wind power is used at or near where it is generated, according to DOE. Iowa had the most new distributed wind capacity installed in 2017 with 63.47 megawatts, according to the report.

Distributed wind systems are connected on the customer side of the meter to meet the onsite load or directly to distribution or micro grids to help grid operation or offset large loads close by, and are possible for approximately 49.5 million residential, commercial or industrial sites, according to an analysis by the DOE. The U.S. wind industry installed more than seven gigawatts of capacity in 2017, according to the report. Read more here.

DISTRIBUTED WIND ENERGY RESOURCES

INCENTIVES

Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar systems and small wind turbines: 30% through 2018 and 2019. Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP) GRANTS & LOANS
USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants
The deadlines to apply for grants are October 31, 2018, and April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round. REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.

Central City Community Solar Garden, First of Its Kind

USDA Rural Development News Release – Nebraska

Community leaders in Central City expressed interest in making their community a trailblazer in clean energy by organizing a community solar garden. The project was kick-started by Mesner Development Company and their donation of a neutral site on which other Central City businesses could construct solar panels to offset their energy usage. Continue reading.

Photo: Central City Administrator Chris Anderson (left) and Mesner Development’s Cliff Mesner

MORE USDA NEWS

Clean Energy Jobs Mean Business

By Ron Pernick, Renewable Energy World

A growing number of states now have more jobs in renewable electricity generation (solar, wind, and hydro combined) than in conventional electricity generation (natural gas, coal, and oil combined). These include a host of red states (based on 2016 presidential election results), including Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Oklahoma. Click here to read the entire article, which includes numerous statistics on clean-energy jobs.

2017 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (PDF)
2017 US Energy and Jobs Report State Charts (PDF)

Image credit: iStock

MORE NEBRASKA / MIDWEST NEWS

How much does a solar electric system cost in Nebraska?

  • Residential Rooftop Systems – Size Range: 3-10 kilowatts (kW)
    Typical Cost = $3.00 – $3.50 / installed watt
  • Commercial rooftop systems: 10 kilowatts to 2 megawatts have a separate price range.
  • These estimates are for installations not using the “Plug & Play” ConnectDER, which saves labor and time.  

Cost estimates for 3-5 kilowatt systems. 

At $3.50 per installed watt, the costs of three sizes of PV systems, before rebates & other incentives are subtracted, are:
3-kilowatt PV system: 3000 watts x $3.50 = $10,500
4-kilowatt PV system: 4000 watts  x $3.50 = $!4,000
5-kilowatt PV system: 5000 watts x $3.50 = $17,500

The cost of a system after subtracting theFederal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%
3-kilowatt PV system: $10,500 – $3150 = $7,350
4-kilowatt PV system:   $!4,000 – $4,200 = $9,800
5-kilowatt PV system: $17,500 – $5,250 = $12,250

Additional Solar Energy Incentives Offered by LES

 

Lincoln Electric System (LES) provides additional customer incentives based on the solar system’s energy-generating capacity, as described in the PDF, “Customer-owned Renewable Generation.” These LES customer rebates are called “capacity payments” and are determined as follows:

 

South-facing, fixed-PV systems: $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. The savings in the following examples would be:
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,125
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,500
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,875

The costs after both the federal Investment Tax Credit + LES capacity payments are subtracted:
3-kilowatt PV system: $6,225
4-kilowatt PV system: $8,300
5-kilowatt PV system: $10,375

West-facing or single or dual-axis tracking PV system: $475 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $1,425
4-kilowatt PV system: $1,900
5-kilowatt PV system: $2,375

The total cost to the buyer after both the federal Investment Tax Credit + LES capacity payments, above, are subtracted:
3-kilowatt PV system: $5,925
4-kilowatt PV system: $7,900
5-kilowatt PV system: $9,875

Two Additional Incentives for Installing a PV System

  • Accelerated Depreciation for Businesses
  • Self-Employment Tax Credit

REAP Grants for Nebraska Farms & Rural Small Businesses

Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants, available to qualified Nebraska farms and rural small businesses, provide an additional 25% of the cost of a solar electric system.

The costs of installing a PV system after the 30% federal Investment Tax Incentive and a REAP grant of 25% are subtracted:
3-kilowatt PV system: $4,725
4-kilowatt PV system: $6,300
5-kilowatt PV system: $7,875

For more information about REAP grants, contact Jeff Carpenter, State Energy Coordinator at the Nebraska USDA Rural Development State Office, Suite 308, Federal Building, 100 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508.
Telephone: 402-437-5554 / Email: carpenter@ne.usda.gov
Nebraska USDA Rural Development Website: http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

The Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has established an energy-auditing program to assist agricultural producers and rural small businesses in evaluating the energy efficiency of their operations and the potential for incorporating renewable energy into them. An energy audit is required for the REAP grant application. MEP will pay 75% of its cost for qualified applicants. Contact: Matthew Jorgensen, Project Specialist, Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership Telephone: 308-293-5884 or Email: mjorgensen@unl.edu. Website: http://nemep.unl.edu/

The Incentive to Conserve Energy
The average household uses about 1000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity each month. Check your electric bills over the past 12 months to find out how many kilowatt-hours your home or business is currently consuming. Conserving energy saves money and, of course, reduces the size solar system you will need.  Nebraskans for Solar board member Eric Williams’ 3-kilowatt system, shown above, produces about 50% of the electricity used by his energy-efficient home and electric car. The solar panels are warranted by the manufacturer to last for 25 years.

Additional Resources

Off Grid Solar, by Joseph P. O’Connor

This is an excellent guide written with do-it-yourselfers in mind. The author, Joseph O’Connor, is a solar manufacturing entrepreneur as well as a consultant, speaker, and prolific writer on solar energy.

Solar Electricity Handbook – 2017 Edition, by Michael Boxwell

Now in its eleventh edition, this book provides a step-by-step guide on how to successfully design and install a solar energy system from scratch. The website that accompanies the book includes online solar calculators and tools to simplify a solar installation. Michael Boxwell is a leading expert on solar energy, authoring more than twenty books in the field, which he first started working in twenty years ago.

COSTS FOR DO-IT-YOURSELFERS


How much is a solar electric system?

A solar electric or photovoltaic (PV) system typically costs $1 to $1.50 per watt, depending on the brand name. This includes solar panels, inverter and racking.


At $1 to $1.50 per watt, the costs of three sizes of PV systems, before incentives are subtracted, are:

3-kilowatt PV system: $3,000 to $4,500
4-kilowatt PV system $4,000 to $6,000
5-kilowatt PV system $5,000 to $7,500

The cost of each system after subtracting the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 30%
3-kilowatt PV system: $2,100 to $3,150
4-kilowatt PV system:  $2,800 to $4,200
5-kilowatt PV system: $3,500 to $5,250

Additional incentive offered to Lincoln Electric System customers: Capacity Payments (See Above). The cost of each south- or west-facing system after these are subtracted:

South-facing, fixed-PV systems: $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $975 to $2,025
4-kilowatt PV system:  $1,300 to $2,700
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,625 to $3,375

West-facing or single or dual-axis tracking PV system: $475 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity.
3-kilowatt PV system: $675 to $1,725
4-kilowatt PV system:  $900 to $2,300
5-kilowatt PV system: $1,125 to $2,875

Where can you buy solar systems in Nebraska?
Van Meter, an employee-owned electrical supply company in Omaha at 10931 E Circle, sells solar energy equipment. Dixon Power Systems on 3250 N 20th Street in Lincoln and Solar Heat & Electric at 7342 Farnam Street in Omaha also sell everything a do-it-yourselfer needs to install a solar system at his or her home or business.

Two Additional Incentives for Installing a PV System

  • Accelerated Depreciation for Businesses
  • Self-Employment Tax Credit

Solar Permit
There is an additional cost of paying an electrician to obtain the permit to install a solar system on your home or business.

Solar Installation Workshops / Classes in Nebraska – These are announced in our electronic newsletters and posted on our calendar

  • Solar installation classes at local community colleges.
  • John Hay, Professor at UNL’s Biosystems Engineering Department with a focus on energy and Nebraska Extension Educator, teaches solar seminars and installation workshops at Extension Offices across Nebraska, which have been featured on our website and in our newsletters. Subscribe to our newsletter at nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.
  • Van Meter sponsors solar installation training workshops in partnership with Julie Brazeau and Matt Parks from the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. MREA is the sponsor of the annual Solar Energy Fair in Custer, Wisconsin. Check Van Meter’s website for information about their workshops: www.vanmeter.com
  • Solar do-it-yourselfers, including Eric Williams, Nebraskans for Solar board member, and Don Preister, President of Green Bellevue, are also happy to answer questions from anyone considering going solar. You’ll see them both at Earth Day Omaha and Sarpy County Earth Day events and at solar energy workshops and forums.

Nebraska Community Colleges
Central Community College
Metropolitan Community College
Mid-Plains Community College
Southeast Community College
Western Nebraska Community College

With projects popping up across Nebraska, future of solar power brightens

Written by Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald cliff-mesner-3


CENTRAL CITY, Neb. — On an old gravel parking lot on the north edge of town, a pioneer in rural economic development is trying to show how solar energy could reduce electric bills. Mounted on four rows of steel racks, 8½ feet high and covering an area the size of a football field, shiny black panels of photovoltaic cells soak up the afternoon sun. In the center, an array of meters and junction boxes hum away, documenting a flow of electricity that can power about 32 homes. Cliff Mesner, an economic developer for more than 25 years in this Platte River town, has been involved in luring businesses to Central City, expanding the ethanol industry and helping several communities build affordable housing. Now he’s selling solar. Continue reading.

Photo: Developer Cliff Mesner helped persuade residents and businesses at Central City to invest in a $600,000, 200-kilowatt solar garden. He completed the project a year ago and is working on others in Venango, Scottsbluff and Holdrege.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

New round of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant applications now open

Hammond Farm.1

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Who may apply?
Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations, and small businesses in eligible rural areas.

Deadlines
Grants of $20,000 or less: October 31, 2016 and March 31, 2017.
Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2017.
Loan Guarantees are completed continuously throughout the year.

Program Fact Sheet (PDF) 

NEBRASKA RURAL DEVELOPMENT ENERGY COORDINATOR
Jeff Carpenter, USDA Rural Development, 100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308 Lincoln, NE 68508
402) 437-5554
jeff.carpenter@ne.usda.gov
http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

ENERGY AUDIT GRANTS
An energy audit is required for a REAP application. The Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at UNL conducts energy audits to meet USDA Rural Development grant and/or guaranteed loan application requirements. Energy audits can be conducted at any time by Nebraska MEP staff but must be completed in advance of USDA application submission deadlines. The program’s focus is on areas where local electric utility providers do not offer free audits. Nebraska MEP, which received an Energy Audit Program grant from USDA Rural Development, will pay 75% of the cost of an audit. Applicants will be required to pay 25% of the cost.

MEP CONTACT
Matthew Jorgensen
Project Specialist
Nebraska MEP
(308) 293-5884
mjorgensen@unl.edu

Photo: Hammond Farm in Nebraska. Credit: Matt Ryerson, Lincoln Journal Star 

Rural Areas Benefit from new REAP Awards

Farm Energy.Org

Minden Farm

The USDA announced another round of awards for the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) in mid-July, bringing benefits to 56 states and territories and to a wide range of agricultural sectors. REAP continues to help reduce costs, protect and increase jobs and to produce homegrown clean energy . . . Solar energy in rural settings continues to grow strongly with REAP with 337 awards (including hybrid technology projects) for $5 million. These projects are very diverse geographically, covering nearly all the states. They are also diverse in size, ranging from about $3,000 to $250,000. The average solar award was $15,000 . . . The award list can be found here. More award announcements will be issued in coming months.
Read the entire Farm Energy post here.

ALSO POSTED ON FARM ENERGY’S WEBSITE
Harvesting Sunshine More Lucrative Than Crops at Some U.S. Farms

Photo: This 21-kilowatt PV system on a family farm in Minden, Nebraska provides most of the farm’s energy needs. The project was partly funded by a USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant. Additional financing was obtained through the Nebraska Energy Office’s low-interest loan program for solar installations. Credit: Graham Christensen of GC Resolve

At a time when Midwest rural economies are continuing to decline, solar energy projects funded in-part by REAP grants, along with solar and wind energy development in general, provide a means to reverse this trend, contributing to the economic strength and well being of our communities.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Rural economy continues to weaken, Omaha World-Herald

Rural electric co-ops, traditional bastions of coal, are getting into solar

By David Roberts, Vox

Shutterstock Image

Shutterstock Image

In the US, rural areas and constituencies have typically weighed against progress on clean energy. But that may be changing. A new story out of Wisconsin illustrates that a slow, tentative shift is underway, as rural electricity consumers and the utilities that serve them take a new look at the benefits of solar power. In fact, if you squint just right, you can even glimpse a future in which rural America is at the vanguard of decarbonization. The self-reliance and local jobs enabled by renewable energy are of unique value in rural areas, and rural leaders are beginning to recognize that solar isn’t just for elitist coastal hippies any more.

Click here to continue reading.  

To learn more about Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) grants mentioned in the article, click here. May 2nd is the deadline for the current round of grant applications. 

Nebraska ranch dating back to 1876 goes solar

Sand Hills Express / Custer County Broadcasting
Jenkins Ranch
The Jenkins Ranch near Callaway hosted an open house and ribbon cutting Wednesday, Feb. 17th, for a new 25 kw solar panel system. Members of the Callaway Chamber of Commerce and local ag community, as well as representatives from Custer Public Power District, Nebraska Energy Office and USDA, attended the event. In opening remarks welcoming the crowd in attendance, Jim Jenkins said he is surprised at the interest that has recently been generated in solar power.

Continue reading. 

Nebraska MEP helps ag producers, small businesses by conducting audits needed for USDA energy programs

2013HPJMAJLogoRGBThe audit service is offered by the Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, which received an Energy Audit Assistance Grant from USDA RD. Qualifying businesses pay only 25 percent of the audit cost. The remainder is covered by the grant . . . [Project Specialist, Matthew Jorgensen] said Nebraska MEP is targeting areas of the state for audit assistance where applicants cannot get a free audit from their local electric utility provider. In the western half of Nebraska, those areas include parts or all of these counties: Arthur, Box Butte, Chase, Cheyenne, Custer, Deuel, Dundy, Frontier, Furnas, Keith, Kimball, Morrill, Perkins and Scotts Bluff.

Read the entire article here.

Contact: Matthew Jorgensen, Project Specialist, Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership / Telephone: 308-293-5884 or Email: mjorgensen@unl.edu

The deadline for the current round of Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant applications is May 2nd. Click here for more information posted on our website, or visit: USDA Rural Development – Nebraska