Do your homework before applying for federal funds for renewable energy

Buckeye Farm News

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy in America Program (REAP) provides grants that fund energy audits as well as support the installation of renewable energy systems. The first round of applications is due April 15.

Advances in technology have made renewable energy equipment, particularly for solar and wind, more practical than it was just five to 10 years ago, according Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau’s director of energy services.

Arnold said families and businesses looking to invest in this technology need to think the same way they would when purchasing a major piece of farm equipment or real estate.

A few of Arnold’s tips:

• Invest in an energy audit. To maximize the savings potential for a wind or solar unit on your property, first identify ways to reduce your total energy demand. In some cases, those savings alone may preclude the need to invest in other systems.

• Check local zoning regulations. Townships where there are a greater concentration of people may have rules regarding the size, scope and placement of wind and solar systems.

• Talk with your local utility company to ensure your system meets its requirements for interconnection with the electrical grid.

• Use references to find a renewable energy service provider that will take time to sit down with you, understand your needs and make recommendations about appropriate equipment for your situation.

• Learn about renewable energy credits. Working with an aggregator to bundle and sell the credits produced by several homes and small businesses may result in additional savings. Be sure that you’re not giving away your right to these credits in any contracts you sign.

• Don’t hesitate to talk to a lawyer to understand the terms of a contract including rebates, energy credits and potential non-delivery penalties.

Learn more about the REAP program and how to apply.

Lynn Snyder 

Lynn Snyder is senior director of communications for Ohio Farm Bureau.

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