Solar for farms and small businesses

Are you a West Virginia farmer or small business owner? Ever thought about going solar? Solar United Neighbors can connect you with the resources you need to bring solar energy to your farm or business!

Solar United Neighbors is excited help more West Virginia farmers and small business owners go solar. The goal of this program is to help West Virginia farmers and business owners access the benefits of solar energy with technical support from solar experts. We will explain how solar can benefit your farm or business and help guide you through the process of going solar!

West Virginia farmers and small business owners who become members of Solar United Neighbors will receive individualized support and assistance from Program Director Autumn Long and the West Virginia solar team. We provide expert, vendor-neutral information to help you understand your options and compare proposals from solar installers.

Solar United Neighbors also can connect farmers and business owners with funding resources, including grant opportunities and guaranteed loan-financing programs available for West Virginia agricultural producers and rural small businesses.

We help our members solicit proposals from qualified local solar installers; and provide guidance and expertise in reviewing solar proposals to help you select the option that best fits your needs. We support, advise, and advocate for you throughout the entire process of going solar.

How much does solar cost?

 

You will be credited for your system’s excess generation through a system known as net metering. Net metering ensures you get compensated fairly for the energy you produce. It allows you to offset your electric bill with your solar production. In West Virginia, this is a one-to-one retail-rate credit. In other words, the solar energy you produce is equal in value to the energy you receive from your utility. So, if you produce one kilowatt-hour of electricity, you reduce your bill by one kilowatt-hour of electricity. At the end of the month, your electric bill reflects your total usage minus the electricity that your solar panels produced.

West Virginia’s net metering policy allows for what is known as “meter aggregation”. In short, this means that a single solar array can offset multiple electric meters on your property. The value of the energy your solar panels produce can be applied to additional meters on any property you own or lease that is within two miles of your net-metered solar system.

Meter aggregation can be completed virtually, so it is not necessary to physically connect your solar panels to more than one electric meter. For virtual meter aggregation, credits are first applied to the meter through which the solar system supplies electricity to the grid, then prorated equally to the remaining meters for the account.

Aggregate net metering benefits farmers and other business owners with multiple electric meters. To learn more about net metering, visit our net metering page.

As a business owner, you may be able to use the Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS) to recover investments in assets (like solar) through tax deductions. Businesses can deduct 85 percent of qualified solar equipment over a five-year period. To learn more about accelerated depreciation, read this article from the Solar Energy Industries Association. Talk to your accountant about how best to manage the tax benefits of going solar.

Solar United Neighbors now offers grant-writing services for farmers and small business owners seeking to apply for REAP funding!

Become a member to join our special program for farms and small businesses, and we can help you apply for a REAP grant to offset the cost of going solar.

How can I pay for a solar installation on my farm or business?

West Virginia farmers and small business owners who want to go solar have access to excellent funding opportunities. The following resources will get you started:

USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Loans & Grants

  • USDA REAP provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or energy efficiency improvements.
  • USDA REAP funding is available to:
    • Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations; and
    • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.
  • Competitive grants are available for up to 25% of total eligible project costs. Loan guarantees are available for up to 75% of total eligible project costs. Combined grant and loan guarantee funding is available for up to 75% of total eligible project costs.
  • Annual REAP Deadlines:
    Projects with costs totaling more than $80,000 – March 31
    Projects with costs totaling less than $80,000 – October 31

To find out more about REAP financing opportunities:

The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) Energy Initiative

  • The Conservation Fund’s Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) finances and advises small to mid-sized enterprises, primarily in rural and under-served communities, including in West Virginia. NCIF’s Energy Initiative promotes sustainable economic development in rural Appalachia through energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.
  • As a nonprofit lender, NCIF provides financing to farms and agricultural producers for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. NCIF’s Energy Initiative also connects borrowers with a regional network of service providers and capital and funding sources, and coordinates technical assistance, including grant writing and energy audits.

To find out more about NCIF funding and assistance:

The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) Energy Initiative

  • The USDA NRCS EQIP Energy Initiative provides technical information and financial assistance for site-specific energy analysis and the purchase and installation of energy upgrades and improvements.

To find out more about NRCS EQIP funding:

Questions?

Learn more about solar, incentives, and more by reading through our solar FAQs. Or, watch our solar information session video below.

Still have questions?

Email Autumn Long at: autumn@solarunitedneighbors.org.

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