For solar sales professionals, it’s essential to stay informed about the various incentives and programs available to help your customers make the switch to solar energy. One program that is particularly beneficial for farmers and rural small business owners is the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). 

REAP grants can significantly reduce the upfront cost of installing renewable energy or energy efficiency upgrades, making it more accessible for these customers to participate in the clean energy transition. In this video excerpt from the free Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for Solar Companies course, Emma Searson from Solar United Neighbors (SUN) provides an overview of the eligibility requirements for REAP grants, focusing on the two main groups that can benefit: farmers who earn at least 50% of their gross income from agricultural production and rural small businesses that meet specific size and location criteria. Emma also discusses how REAP grants can be combined with other federal tax incentives and explores the various benefits that going solar can offer for rural businesses. 

Enroll for free in the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) for Solar Companies course to learn more about the program specifics as well as application details. By understanding the details of this program, you’ll be better prepared to assist your eligible customers in taking advantage of this incredible opportunity to reduce their costs for a clean energy project.

So in addition to being limited to only certain technologies, only certain applicants are eligible for REAP grants as well.

So there are two main groups I want to touch on. One is farmers, specifically farmers who earn at least 50% of their gross income from agricultural production. 

The second group that is also eligible for REAP grants is rural small businesses. So there are two pieces that  both of which must be true in order to apply in this category. So first, the business has to be in a rural area, and that’s determined by USDA.  You can check whether the area is rural by looking at their Rural Eligibility Map, which is searchable by address. The business must also be small as defined by the small business administration’s size standards. Generally speaking, businesses with a net worth of less than $15 million and a net annual income of less than $5 million will meet those standards, but they’re industry specific, so it is important to check. 

There are many reasons that any rural small business or agricultural operation might consider going solar through a REAP grant. I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but just to go over a few of them. First, going solar leads to more energy choice and energy freedom. The consumer gains the ability to decide where their energy comes from and make it themselves. Going solar can also substantially reduce a business’s energy costs and enable predicting and controlling those costs better in the long run.

And that makes businesses less vulnerable to outside forces, like oil and gas prices, which we know fluctuate and can threaten the bottom line.  On a related note, powering a business with solar improves energy security, meaning that the business will be insulated from the risk of power outages due to anything from extreme weather to fossil fuel supply chain issues. 

And then it probably goes without saying that going solar enables businesses to tap into this abundant source of energy that doesn’t pollute our air, water or climate.  And then on top of all of that, solar has gotten more and more affordable as the technology has matured over time. Going solar with a REAP grant specifically offers a big opportunity to shave off more of the cost.

So the REAP grant itself can shave off up to 50% of the total cost of going solar and then REAP grants can be combined with other federal tax programs, including the federal tax credit for businesses or ITC. That alone can knock another 30% off of the out of pocket costs. The non-grant-funded costs and REAP can also be combined with the modified accelerated cost recovery system, which will touch on in a little bit more detail later.